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Internal and External Aspects of Security

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Didier Bigo
Publisher / Publication: 
European Security, 15 (4): 385-404
Abstract: 

This contribution analyses the merging of internal and external aspects of security.

Whereas according to the ‘doxa’ emerging after 11 September 2001, such convergence is the logical and necessary answer to global terrorism, this article argues instead that the de-differentiation between internal and external security does not result from the transformation of political violence, but mainly from institutional games and practices of securitisation that define the importance of security as superior to sovereignty and freedom. A web of security institutions has developed beyond national borders, and policing at a distance has disentangled security from state sovereignty. The question of who is in charge of security is now tackled at the transnational level, generating competition among professionals of politics and (in)security over the existence of threats and legitimate answers to them. Moreover, the role of technology, especially concerning information exchange, has reinforced the importance of security professionals. The impact of Europeanisation has been central as it has formalised transnational ties between security professionals, and the emergence of European institutions in charge of fundamental rights and data protection may provide a space to discuss collectively who is entitled to define what constitutes a threat.

Security and Immigration: Toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Didier Bigo
Publisher / Publication: 
Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 27 (1): 63-92
Abstract: 

Some “critical” discourses generated by NGOs and academics assume that if people, politicians, governments, bureaucracies and journalists were more aware, they would change their minds about migrat

ion and begin to resist securitizing it. The primary problem, therefore, is ideological or discursive in that the securitization of migrants derives from the language itself and from the different capacities of various actors to engage in speech acts. In this context, the term “speech act” is used not in its technical Austinian sense, but metaphorically, to justify both the normative position of a speaker and the value of their critical discourse against the discourses of the security professionals. This understanding of critique reinforces the vision of a contest between ideas and norms, a contest in which academics can play a leading role. This essay seeks to avoid presenting the struggle as an ideological one between conserv- ative and liberal positions, or even as an “intertextual competition” between agencies in which academics have a key role. It examines why the discourses of securitization continue to be so powerful even when alternatives discourses are well known, and why the production of academic and alternative discourses has so little effect in either the political arena or in daily life. It emphasizes the work of politicization, of the mobilization of groups and technologies enabling some agents, especially political actors, the media, the security professionals and some sectors of the general population, to create a “truth” about the link between crime, unemployment, and migration, even when academics, churches, NGOs and some social policy oriented institutions have made powerful claims to the contrary for many years. 

Security - Analysing transnational professionals of (in)security in Europe

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Didier Bigo
Publisher / Publication: 
Chapter in: Rebecca Adler-Niessen (ed.), Bourdieu in International Relations - Rethinking Key Concepts in IR, Routledge, pp. 114-130
Abstract: 

This chapter tries to sum up why the problematisation suggested by Pierre Bourdieu in terms of practice instead of norms and values or interest and rational choice, of relational approach instead o

f essentialism or interactionism, permits rethinking security differently. It is crucial to understand agents' practices concerning (in)security as forms of strategies of distinction instead of rational calculus, of field and habitus instead of structure and agency, of trajectories and change instead of stability and (dis)order, of field of power, field of national state and field of professionals of politics, law, security instead of a vision in terms of state-society and interstate actors. 

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