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Ideas, Identities and Internalization: Explaining securitizing moves
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Peace and Conflict Research.
2013 (English)In: Cooperation and Conflict, ISSN 0010-8367, E-ISSN 1460-3691, Vol. 48, no 1, 143-164 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Why do some events take precedence over others in terms of being viewed as security issues? This article argues that in order to answer this question it is necessary to move beyond the assumption that threat images are self-evident. Rather, a distinction should be made between the contextual conditions that may lay the foundation for a threat image and the subjective problem formulation by actors. In addition, in order to analyze how, why, and when an actor constructs a threat image and initiates a so-called securitization process, a broad conceptual and analytical framework should be employed. This article suggests a framework that incorporates ideas and identity at the international and domestic levels, and the internalization processes of the central decision-making unit performing the securitization. The article argues that while the diffusion of ideas by entrepreneurs forms an important basis for the threat constructions of national decision-makers, it is necessary to take the role of national and domestic identities into account in order to explain why some idea diffusion processes succeed while other do not. Identity serves as a catalyst or gate-keeper of idea diffusion. The internalization of the decision-making unit, finally, is a central mechanism that highlights the process between the explanatory factors and the outcome (securitization). By including these three concepts into the analysis, this article takes a holistic approach that can be employed to analyze different kinds of actor-based and non-actor-based threat images.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 48, no 1, 143-164 p.
Keyword [en]
constructivism, ideas, identities, internalization, securitization, threat perception
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-130578DOI: 10.1177/0010836712445023ISI: 000316633200007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-130578DiVA: diva2:349925
Available from: 2010-09-09 Created: 2010-09-09 Last updated: 2015-03-23Bibliographically 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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