Today I’m going to introduce more about Securitization theory. The merit of understanding Securitization is that this enables us to see security issues in a different way. This perspective tells us security issues may not be inherently security issues for us, but they may be constructed on purpose.
In the previous post, I wrote about the basic idea of Securitization and related facts about it. This time I care to elaborate the actors and process of Securitization. Let’s get started.
The process of Securitization
Securitization proceeds in three part. The first part is the Securitizing act with narratives, the second part is accepting such securitizing act by an audience, the third part is the implementation of emergency measures.
1. Securitizing act with narratives
In this stage, the ordinal political problem changes to security issues. This act is done by securitizing actors, such as political leaders, government, lobbyist. As I mentioned in the previous post, the core of this act is words and narratives. ex) Trump’s speech and tweets saying immigrant commit crimes and Muslims carry the terrorist attack.
2. Accepting such securitizing act by audiences
Audiences are what securitizing act directing at. Audiences can be people, or even smaller community like congressmen, ethnic groups. In the framework of Securitization, the audience is integral part concerning the success and failure of the securitizing act. When the audience accept the narratives, (in other words, trust the narratives) then the securitizing act is considered to be successful. If they don’t, then failure. With that being said, we can define what ‘issues are securitized’ means:
“Issues are defined as securitized if they are pictured and accepted as posing an existential threat requiring emergency measures as well as measures outside the normal ‘rules of the game.’” (Robin Lucke and Elena Duck, 2016)
3. Implementation of emergency measures … and more.
The success of Securitization usually entails with emergency measures, which would be never accepted by audiences if there was no Securitization. Emergency measures are exemplified by restriction of basic rights including privacy, strengthened surveillance, and so on. Trump’s travel ban is also an example of emergency measures after securitization.
Although implementation of emergency measures is a usual result, Securitization act could play out in two different ways. The first is Anti-Securitization. As the word implying, this is the movement against Securitization. This could be like critics from the opposition party, protest demonstrations.
The second is De-Securitization. De-Securitization is the complete opposite of Securitization. Securitization is all about constructing security issues from ordinal political issues. De-Securitization is all about deconstructing security issues and get them back to the ordinal political process. In fact, scholars proposed many ways of De-Securitization, so deconstructing is just one of them ( Other ways are called emancipation, management, reconstruction).
For me, the most interesting way of De-Securitization is reconstruction. Reconstruction is to change the identity of each other. (Now it gets more like Constructivists) Examples are very helpful to understand reconstruction. Consider the relationship between France and Germany, or between the U.S. and Japan. During WW II, they saw each other as enemy or threat. In other words, they had the identity of an enemy. But with long-term cooperation and engagement, these two relationship is now more than intimate, even the backbone of current international order, which means the identity of enemy turned into the identity of friends. This is reconstruction. Treating the adversary as friend gradually fulfills the expectation of becoming friends (as we often see in our daily human relationship.)
Implications of Securitization
The whole idea of Securitization and reconstruction as a means to deal with it is very useful. For example, the rise of China is considered a threat to many countries. But according to Securitization theory, this threat may be in some degree created by actors with purpose(like governments who has conflicting interest with that of China).
As ordinal citizens who don’t have to think of international relations as a state of war, we have to remember this perspective and try to deal with “the threat” differently than governments. We can, for example, see and interact Chinese as friends, and make the threat, just, gone.
I know it may be too idealistic. But the more people believe this and act according to this, the more likely this comes true. At least this is the perspective worth keeping.
Thank you for reading! I really want to hear your opinion about this article or topics you want me to write. So it would be very appreciated if you write some comment!
See you then,
Barry Buzan, Ole Waever and Jaap de Wilde, 1998, Security: a new framework for analysis. Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
Edin Fako, 2012, “Strategies of Desecuritization” MA Dissertation to Department of International Relations and European Studies.
Laura Herta, 2017, Security As Speech Act: Discourse Constructions on the Syrian Refugee Crisis.”
Matt McDonald, 2008, “Securitization and the Construction of Security.” European Journal of International Relations, 14:4.
Michael C. Williams, 2003, “Words, Images, Enemies: Securitization and International Politics” International Studies Quarterly 47, pp 511-531.
Robin Lucke and Elena Duck, 2016, ”9/11 and Paris Compared: The Same Old Securitization Story?” presented at the ECPR General Conference in Prague.
Ulrik Pram and Karen Lund Petersen, 2011, “Concepts of Politics in Securitization Studies.” Security Dialogue 42(4-5), pp 315-328.