Knowledgebase

Number of results: 28

The Ethical Subject of Security - Geopolitical Reason and the Threat Against Europe

Document type: 
Book
Authors / Institution: 
Publisher / Publication: 
Routledge
Abstract: 

While critical security studies largely concentrates on objects of security, this book focuses on the subject position from which ‘securitization’ and other security practices t

ake place. First, it argues that the modern subject itself emerges and is sustained as a function of security and insecurity. It suggests, consequently, that no analytic frame can produce or reproduce the subject in some original or primordial form that does not already reproduce a fundamental or structural insecurity. It critically returns, through a variety of studies, to traditionally held conceptions of security and insecurity as simple predicates or properties that can be associated or not to some more essential, more primeval, more true or real subject. It thus opens and explores the question of the security of the subject itself, locating, through a reconstruction of the foundations of the concept of security, in the modern conception of the subject, an irreducible insecurity. Second, it argues that practices of security can only be carried out as a certain kind of negotiation about values. The analyses in this book find security expressed again and again as a function of value cast in terms of an explicit or implicit philosophy of life, of culture, of individual and collective anxieties and aspirations, of expectations about what may be sacrificed and what is worth preserving. By way of a critical examination of the value function of security, this book discovers the foundation of values as dependent on a certain management of their own vulnerability, continuously under threat, and thus fundamentally and necessarily insecure.

A geographic approach for combining social media and authoritative data towards identifying useful information for disaster management

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Publisher / Publication: 
International Journal of Geographical Information Science, 29 (4): 667-689
Abstract: 

In recent years, social media emerged as a potential resource to improve the management of crisis situations such as disasters triggered by natural hazards.

Although there is a growing research body concerned with the analysis of the usage of social media during disasters, most previous work has concentrated on using social media as a stand-alone information source, whereas its combination with other information sources holds a still underexplored potential. This article presents an approach to enhance the identification of relevant messages from social media that relies upon the relations between georeferenced social media messages as Volunteered Geographic Information and geographic features of flood phenomena as derived from authoritative data (sensor data, hydrological data and digital elevation models). We apply this approach to examine the micro-blogging text messages of the Twitter platform (tweets) produced during the River Elbe Flood of June 2013 in Germany. This is performed by means of a statistical analysis aimed at identifying general spatial patterns in the occurrence of flood-related tweets that may be associated with proximity to and severity of flood events. The results show that messages near (up to 10 km) to severely flooded areas have a much higher probability of being related to floods. In this manner, we conclude that the geographic approach proposed here provides a reliable quantitative indicator of the usefulness of messages from social media by leveraging the existing knowledge about natural hazards such as floods, thus being valuable for disaster management in both crisis response and preventive monitoring.

Internal and External Aspects of Security

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
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.

Theorizing Surveillance: The Panopticon and Beyond

Document type: 
Book
Authors / Institution: 
Publisher / Publication: 
Routledge
Abstract: 

This book is about explaining surveillance processes and practices in contemporary society.

Surveillance studies is a relatively new multi-disciplinary enterprise that aims to understand who watches who, how the watched participate in and sometimes question their surveillance, why surveillance occurs, and with what effects. This book brings together some of the world's leading surveillance scholars to discuss the "why" question. The field has been dominated, since the groundbreaking work of Michel Foucault, by the idea of the panopticon and this book explores why this metaphor has been central to discussions of surveillance, what is fruitful in the panoptic approach, and what other possible approaches can throw better light on the phenomena in question.Since the advent of networked computer databases, and especially since 9/11, questions of surveillance have come increasingly to the forefront of democratic, political and policy debates in the global north (and to an extent in the global south). Civil liberties, democratic participation and privacy are some of the issues that are raised by these developments. But little progress can be made in responding to these issues without an adequate understanding of how, how well and whether or not surveillance works. This book explores the theoretical questions in a way that is grounded in and attuned to empirical realities.

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

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
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. 

Climate and security: evidence, emerging risks, and a new agenda

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Publisher / Publication: 
Climatic Change, 123 (1): 1-9
Abstract: 

There are diverse linkages between climate change and security including risks of conflict, national security concerns, critical national infrastructure, geo-political rivalries and threats to huma

n security. We review analysis of these domains from primary research and from policy prescriptive and advocacy sources. We conclude that much analysis over-emphasises deterministic mechanisms between climate change and security. Yet the climate-security nexus is more complex than it appears and requires attention from across the social sciences. We review the robustness of present social sciences analysis in assessing the causes and consequences of climate change on human security, and identify new areas of research. These new areas include the need to analyse the absence of conflict in the face of climate risks and the need to expand the range of issues accounted for in analysis of climate and security including the impacts of mitigation response on domains of security. We argue for the necessity of robust theories that explain causality and associations, and the need to include theories of asymmetric power relations in explaining security dimensions. We also highlight the dilemmas of how observations and historical analysis of climate and security dimensions may be limited as the climate changes in ways that present regions with unprecedented climate risks.

Securing through the failure to secure? The ambiguity of resilience at the bombsite

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Publisher / Publication: 
Security Dialogue, 46 (1): 69-85
Abstract: 

Resilience discourses resignify uncertainty and insecurity as the means to attain security.

Security failure is resignified as productive and becomes part of the story about security learning and improvements in anticipatory capability. In this article, I explore questions of failure mediation and ‘securing through insecurity’. If resilience policies suggest that failure and insecurity can be mediated and redeployed in the cause of success, what becomes of visceral sites of security failure such as the terrorist bombsite? This article focuses on a site where security agencies failed to prevent the bombing of a packed nightclub in Bali, in order to explore ambiguity of failure in the resilience era. It considers the efforts of politicians and activists to perform the site as resilient, and the spatial and temporal excess which eludes this performance. The article contributes to critical literatures on resilience by showing, through the ambiguities of resilience at the bombsite, that resilience is a chimera with regards to its supposed incorporation of insecurity.

Security and the performative politics of resilience: Critical infrastructure protection and humanitarian emergency preparedness

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Authors / Institution: 
Publisher / Publication: 
Security Dialogue, 46 (1): 32-50
Abstract: 

This article critically examines the performative politics of resilience in the context of the current UK Civil Contingencies (UKCC) agenda.

It places resilience within a wider politics of (in)security that seeks to govern risk by folding uncertainty into everyday practices that plan for, pre-empt, and imagine extreme events. Moving beyond existing diagnoses of resilience based either on ecological adaptation or neoliberal governmentality, we develop a performative approach that highlights the instability, contingency, and ambiguity within attempts to govern uncertainties. This performative politics of resilience is investigated via two case studies that explore 1) critical national infrastructure protection and 2) humanitarian emergency preparedness. By drawing attention to the particularities of how resilient knowledge is performed and what it does in diverse contexts, we repoliticize resilience as an ongoing, incomplete, and potentially self-undermining discourse.

Resilience and (in)security: Practices, subjects, temporalities

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Publisher / Publication: 
Security Dialogue, 46 (1): 3-14
Abstract: 

Diverse, sometimes even contradictory concepts and practices of resilience have proliferated into a wide range of security policies.

We problematize and critically discuss how these forms of resilience change environments, create subjects, link temporalities, and redefine relations of security and insecurity. We show the increased attention – scholarly as well as political – given to resilience in recent times and provide a review of the state of critical security studies literature on resilience. We argue that to advance this discussion, resilience needs to be conceptualized and investigated in plural terms. We use temporalities and subjectivities as key analytical aspects to investigate the plural instantiations of resilience in actual political practice. These two issues – subjectivity and temporality – form the overall context for the special issue and are core themes for all the articles collected here.

The state of the art in societal impact assessment for security research

Document type: 
Scientific publication
Publisher / Publication: 
Science and Public Policy, 42 (3): 339-354
Abstract: 

This paper sets out a structured methodology for conducting a societal impact assessment (SIA) of security research and security measure implementation.

It first provides an overview of the need for and role of SIA, then presents an account of the existing impact assessment methodologies that have influenced this guide. The paper then describes the core methodology based upon an iterative approach to six key sectors of impact, then provides analytical questions for use in this process, before setting out a step-by-step process guideline. This guideline includes guidance on identifying stakeholders and incorporating best practice in impact assessment. Guidance on the content of an SIA report is then provided. The paper concludes with recommendations as how to best embed such a methodology within the broader security research process. The methodology has particular relevance for security research conducted within the EU.

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