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Macrosecuritisation and security constellations: reconsidering scale in securitisation theory

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Barry Buzan
Publisher / Publication: 
Review of International Studies, 35 (2): 253-276
Abstract: 

The Copenhagen school's theory of securitisation has mainly focused on the middle level of world politics in which collective political units, often but not always states, construct relationships o

f amity or enmity with each other. Its argument has been that this middle level would be the most active both because of the facility with which collective political units can construct each other as threats, and the difficulty of finding audiences for the kinds of securitisations and referent objects that are available at the individual and system levels. This article focuses on the gap between the middle and system levels, and asks whether there is not more of substance there than the existing Copenhagen school analyses suggests. It revisits the under-discussed concept of security constellations in Copenhagen school theory, and adds to it the idea of macrosecuritisations as ways of getting an analytical grip on what happens above the middle level. It then suggests how applying these concepts adds not just a missing sense of scale, but also a useful insight into underlying political logics, to how one understands the patterns of securitisation historical, and contemporary.

Slippery? contradictory? sociologically untenable? The Copenhagen school replies

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Barry Buzan
Publisher / Publication: 
Review of International Studies, 23 (2): 241-250
Abstract: 

In the January 1996 issue of the Review, Bill McSweeney argues that our 1993 book, Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe (IMNSAE), ‘subverts’ the analysis of Buza

n’s People, States and Fear (PSF) ‘without enhancing our understanding of the problem of security’ (p. 93).Bill McSweeney, ‘Identity and Security: Buzan and the Copenhagen School’, Review of International Studies, 22 (1996), pp. 81–93; O. Wæver, B. Buzan, Morten Kelstrup and Pierre Lemaitre with David Carlton et al., Identity, Migration and the New Security Agenda in Europe (London, 1993). Of the many charges that McSweeney brings to bear we will address three. First is that societal security is merely a trendy response to current concerns about nationalism rather than a more theoretically considered move. Second — and this seems to be the core of his complaint — is that the view we take of ‘identities’ is far too objectivist and not (de)constructivist enough, and that our approach makes it impossible to consider the process of identity formation as part of the politics of security. Third, he says that Buzan’s association with IMNSAE contradicts strong positions he developed in PSF and that his analysis has therefore become incoherent.

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