Security : A New Framework for Analysis, Paperback
5 out of 5 (1 rating)


Two schools of thought now exist in security studies: traditionalists want to restrict the subject to politico-military issues; while wideners want to extend it to the economic, societal and environmental sectors.

This book sets out a comprehensive statement of the new security studies, establishing the case for the broader agenda.

The authors argue that security is a particular type of politics applicable to a wide range of issues.

Answering the traditionalists charge that this model makes the subject incoherent, they offer a constructivist operational method for distinguishing the process of securitization from that of politicization.

Their approach incorporates the traditionalist agenda and dissolves the artificial boundary between security studies and international political economy, opening the way for a fruitful interplay between the two fields.

It also shows how the theory of regional security complexes remains relevant in today's world.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 300 pages, illustrations
  • Publisher: Lynne Rienner Publishers Inc
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: International relations
  • ISBN: 9781555877842


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One might think of this book as a key effort to mainstream constructivist analysis in IR and show how security (or securitization) is used as an alternative and extreme form of politics. Buzan, Waever, and Wilde (1998) examine how security, alternatively framed as “securitization,” can be conceptualized as particular kind of speech act that elevates issues of concern above normal politics. Thus, the authors establish a continuum between purely technical issues to political issues to issues of security. Security, in the authors’ estimation, is a “move that takes politics beyond the established rules of the game and frames the issue either as a special kind of politics or as above politics” (p. 23), thus justifying extraordinary means to accomplish the relevant task. In order to qualify as a security issue, the authors insist that an issue needs three components: establish an existential threat, demand emergency action, and it must create a space for units involved in mobilizing for the crisis to break free from rules (p. 26).Within the analysis of securitization, one must ask: first, “who” securitizes; then, what is the referent of the securitization act (i.e. the state, people, the environment, the civilization); and then, what is the threat. The social constructivist framework of securitization analysis, then, also rests on the idea of an inter-subjective space. Thus, how audiences understand and give consent to securitization speech acts is at least as important as “who” speaks security; the act of securitization is negotiated between securitizer and audience” (p. 26). In examining the wide versus narrow aspects of security studies, the authors ask not what areas are relevant for security, but how issues within these areas are framed as security threats through the securitization speech act. Though security is a realm of “competing actors” (p. 37), all actors are not equally able to speak security. Thus, an additional aspect of securitization studies is the study of how actors gain the ability to speak security.There is a fundamental tension in the book between its objectives of 1) widening what should be counted as security and 2) its framework for analyzing securitization speech acts. The book, then, never really takes up the issue of the analysis of “security” per se, but rather replaces this with the analysis of security speech acts (the social politics of security). To make a claim for what counts as security (either in its wide or narrow formulation) would be to fall into the role of the actor of one such speech act; thus, one has to ask if this new framework presents any useful tools for military analysts. The authors address this in their concluding chapter (p. 205-206) and acknowledge that their approach is more objectivist in terms of social relations (i.e. that these social relations are in some ways “real”), while their security perspective is radically constructivist. In short, while scholars of the politics of security will find this book useful (and indeed indispensable), scholars of the use of force in international relations (Strategic Studies in its narrowest formulation) might be disappointed.