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Exploring the Construction of Threats: The securitization of HIV/AIDS in Russia
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2008 (English)In: Security Dialogue, ISSN 0967-0106, E-ISSN 1460-3640, Vol. 39, no 1, 7-29 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In April 2006, Russian President Vladimir Putin publicly declared HIV/ AIDS to be a threat to Russia's national security and proposed a guiding strategy to handle it. This move stood in sharp contrast to previous policies of the Russian government. Despite the fact that Russia has experienced one of the fastest growing rates of HIV/AIDS in the world since the turn of the millennium, the government's involvement had previously been minimal, not recognizing AIDS as a national security threat. The question then arises: when is a threat really threatening? This article contributes to the development of theories on threat-framing and security decisionmaking by suggesting an analytical framework that incorporates explanatory variables from different levels of analysis. The adoption of a broad theoretical position facilitates a comprehensive understanding of time and space variations in the securitization of issues. The article demonstrates that norms and identity constructions at the international and domestic levels, combined with their internalization by individual decisionmakers, can together explain Putin's move, and that these factors are of different importance at difference stages of the threat-construction process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 39, no 1, 7-29 p.
Keyword [en]
HIV/AIDS, Identity, Internalization, Norms, Russia
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-98682DOI: 10.1177/0967010607086821ISI: 000253378000001OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-98682DiVA: diva2:201001
Available from: 2009-03-02 Created: 2009-03-02 Last updated: 2011-01-12Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Talking Threats: The Social Construction of National Security in Russia and the United States
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Talking Threats: The Social Construction of National Security in Russia and the United States
2010 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Why are some issues seen as threats? This dissertation attempts to explain the dynamics of threat construction by national decision-makers. The theoretical ambition is twofold: first, the dissertation aims at improving the research on threat construction by suggesting a broad approach that analyzes this process in a structured manner. Second, the dissertation also contributes to the more mainstream International Relations security research agenda, which often under-problematizes this issue. The point of departure is that the link between a condition (e.g. structure) and threat framing (e.g. agency) is not to be taken for granted, and that threat construction is subjective and varies among actors.  This assertion is supported by the findings of the dissertation’s component parts. Essay I finds that US security doctrines such as the Truman and Bush doctrines are not routine responses to external threats but rather the natural continuation of a political and societal discourse in which certain norms and identities interact. Essay II finds that a condition that could lay the foundation for a threat construction does not necessarily evoke such a reaction, such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Russia. Essay III demonstrates the opposite situation; that a securitization can take place although the contextual conditions do not necessarily point toward such a move, such as US President Clinton’s declaration that AIDS is a threat to the national security of the United States. Essay IV proposes a framework that incorporates explanatory factors from the international, the domestic, and the individual levels of analysis. Such a framework allows for a more refined analysis which better captures the contingent relationships between factors. Taken together, the findings of this dissertation indicate that the correlations between conditions and threat constructions are intricate, and that the explanation of a securitization lies in the interaction of certain social and cognitive processes.



Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Peace and Conflict Research, Uppsala University, 2010. 47 p.
Report / Department of Peace and Conflict Research, ISSN 0566-8808 ; 91
threat images, security, securitization, norms, ideas, HIV/AIDS
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Research subject
Peace and Conflict Research
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130585 (URN)978-91-506-2158-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2010-11-27, Universitetshuset, Sal IX, Biskopsgatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2010-11-04 Created: 2010-09-09 Last updated: 2014-11-05Bibliographically approved

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