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Review of Securitization and International Politics


Literature Review of Securitization and International Politics


Inthe post war era, many scholars have come up with differentapproaches on how security should be conceptualized Securitizationtheory put forward by a group of scholars (Copenhagen School) offersa productive and innovative study strategy in the realism of thecontemporary security research The most salient feature thatdistinguishes Copenhagen School securitization theory from othertradition security theory is the link between the socialconstructivism and the realist approach, particularly the findings ofCarl Schmitt

CopenhagenSchool approaches security as a speech –act, a definition thatpresumes security to be a turf in the political arena and that can bepreserved without of shrinking its meaning through use of currentconvention or expanding its scope past substantial description Thisschool of thought broadens the definition of securitization tointegrate the both military and non military state perception andplaces significant importance on the cultural elements and socialidentity Of crucial importance within this new definition ofsecuritization is the literally work of Waever and Barry, the twomain researchers that make up the Copenhagen School (William, 2003)

Speech-Actsand Securitization

Securitizationis entrenched on the Copenhagen School efforts to reconfiguresecurity as a speech-act This group of researcher contends that, bymaking out and tangentially creating an existential hazard toreferent object, players swing the aspect of securitization outsidethe definition of ‘ordinary politics’ to that of ‘emergencypolitics’ (William, 2003) This definition calls for the move tohandle threat with swiftness without of democratic restraint Basedon the precepts of the definition of securitization by the CopenhagenSchool, security cannot be viewed as containing objective meaning,but somewhat as an inter-subjective practice that players endeavor tocreate aspects in terms of security This multifarious explanation ofsecurity’s central functioning has substantially widened the rangeof issues that now fall under the brackets of security studies

Thoughthe proponents of the Copenhagen school of thought use socialconstructivism to exemplify various aspects relating tosecuritization, the substance of their theory is still derived fromthe traditional realism theory More specifically, the epicenter ofthe Copenhagen securitization theory possesses the mark ofinteraction with the far-reaching notions of real politics that wasprevalent in the 1930s and supported by the work of scholars such asSchmitt Carl This does not mean that the Copenhagen School theory isrelated to autocratic politics that was prevalent in many stateduring 1920s and 1930 but rather it depicts the relationship thatexist between the two school of thoughts Additionally, the realismtheory forms the background for the Copenhagen definition ofsecuritization

Asaforementioned, the Copenhagen position on securitization is peggedon the social constructivism and as such security is not termed asobjective element but as a result of particular social processesThis means that these scholars define security issues based on socialconstructivism Though speech-act analyses, aspects that pose athreat to the state are identified and this enables players toseparate aspects that should be treated as security issues Securityis composed of different sectors and every sector has distinctreferent object For instance, in the political sector, the object isthe legitimacy of the interim government and the threat is any stateor faction that tries to undermine state power or authority In themilitary sector, the object is the territorial integrity of thecountry in question and the threat is any external group that posesdanger to the state External threats are those objects that threatento destabilize the culture, norms, economics and life of the localinhabitants while internal threats may arise when elements within thestate threaten their own government or society (William, 2003)

TheCopenhagen School of thoughts strives to widen the meaning ofsecurity to encompass aspects that may not be tantamount to ‘harm’and all things that might be construed to damage or destroy thesocial fabric When securitization is viewed as speech-act theordinary limited definition of security to mean avoidance of what cancause damage or harm is redundant As such an effectivesecuritization is described to consist of three key items, emergencyaction, existential threats and the impacts of relations betweeninter unit through flouting free of regulations (William, 2003)Thisline of thought heavily borrows from Schmitt who contends thateconomic or ethical group will convert itself into a political groupif it is sturdy enough to classify the members as enemies andfriends Copenhagen Schoolasserts that an issue is capable ofsecuritization if it can be escalated to a position where it isaccepted by everyone and thus represented as an ‘existentialthreat’ In this approach the judgment of security is widened fromthe narrow definition entailing only the state mechanisms exerted onother objects considered as threats This theoretical approachidentifies security as an existential threat and that requirespreference

Examplein Related Cases

Sincethe collapse of the Berlin walls that marked the end of the cold war,the issue of migration has been considered as a security issue,especially in developed nations Based on the definition ofsecuritization by the Copenhagen School, viewing migration as asecurity issue can have adverse effects especially on the migrantpopulace Securitization should be framed such that it agrees withthe contemporary ethical constructivism premise of internationalrelations Copenhagen School view of securitization interlink withethics is considered as one of its greatest weakness This Copenhagenschool states that security is no more than specific forms of socialpractice This invariably means that almost all aspects in thesocial realm can be viewed as security issue and as such forms ofviolent activities and conduct such as terrorism, should be viewed asjust speech-act The element of political emergency and existentialthreat may be seem applicable in such situation but the aspect oftreating terror activities and other forms of criminal behavior asspeech-act if far-fetched

Thechanging communication structure also poses another challenge to theapplication of the security as defined by the Copenhagen School ofthought There lies little interaction between speech-act and visualimagery In the era of information revolution, the application ofelectronic media has intensified and visual imagery forms a integralpart in the communication process A close evaluation needs to bedone to exemplify how visual imagery may function as communicationacts, and how visual imagery relates with ordinary verbal expression(William, 2003)


Theprocess of securitization assumes many forms and it may be difficultto evaluate it through one facet- speech-act It becomes increasinglycrucial for scholars in international studies to develop a morecomprehensive understanding of the Structures, institutions andmediums in the modern society to succinctly address the issue ofsecurity


William,MC(2003) &quotWords, Images, Enemies: Securitization andInternational Politics&quot, International Studies Quarterly,47511-3