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6.3 Security

/Frequently asked. Very important topic.

Que. Discuss the changing concept of security and what should be the approach of security in 21st century?
Que. Discuss the different theories of security.

Importance of security.
According to Hobbes, security of life is the most fundamental value as all other values are dependent on it. Security is also the core concept in the theory of international politics. We can call IR theories as security theories.
There are different schools of security and the basic debate among the schools is on
1_Whose security is important? (territorial or human)
2_Security from whom? (state itself or non state actors) 
3_Security of what? (life, culture, environmental, social).

There are two types of theories.

Instrumentalist theories – Liberals, Marxists and realists are instrumentalists approaches. e.g. Realists believe that security can be achieved by acquiring power. Liberals support economic interdependence. Marxists support the end of capitalism.

Reflectivists theories – they focus on ideas, norms, values, culture as  a means of acquiring security. e.g. Feminists, Critical school, Social constructivists and Copenhagen school.

Prominent theories of security.

Realist theory.
2_From other state, which is a source of insecurity.
3_Methods: Balance of power, diplomacy, deterrence.

They talk about security of both – states as well as persons.
Reason of insecurity:
2_Protectionist policies. 
3_Limited interaction. 
4_Militaristic state. 
5_Absense of democracy.
Methods: Liberal institutionalism, functionalism, security community, trading state, democratic peace.

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Marxist theory
Human security.
From capitalism.
How? Revolution against capitalism.

Human security.
From patriarchy.
Solution: Empowerment of women, Bringing women perspective, Bringing ethics into politics.

Critical school / Emancipatory school.
Scholar: Andrew Linklater.
Human security.
Suggestion: end the territorial boundaries, promote moral boundaries, grassroot democracy.

Social constructivists.
Human and state.
From the way we think. How? By communication and by changing the norms.

Copenhagen school.
Scholar: Barry Buzan.  // Very important school.
According to Barry Buzan, Security is a speech act. Any issue is matter of security or not depends on how we talk about it. e.g. The general impression in India is that terrorism is the biggest security act however even SC held that every year more number of people die in road accidents than terrorism. Thus terrorism is biggest security threat’ has been securitized by policy makers in India.

Similarly Trump in his election speeches tried to securitize Muslims as a security threat. Since the end of cold war ethnic relations have been securitized in most of the countries causing intra-state conflicts. Thus in most of the situations govt. tries to divert the attention of people from real issues, securitizing something else.

Barry Buzan suggest that while concluding about security concerns we should focus on who is speaking? they are speaking about what? Who are audience? Thus Copenhagen school comes near to the views of social constructivists that anarchy is what states make of it.

Barry Buzan has also suggested the approach for security policies in 21st century. Security has become a multidimensional concept. Now we cannot compartmentalize state security from human security, economic security from ecological, national security from regional or global. Any security policy should have five pillars.


Securitization: Process of state actors transforming subject into matters of security. It enables extraordinary means to be used in the name of security.

Test Your Knowledge!

1] According to Hobbes which of the following is the most fundamental value?
a) Liberty
b) Rights
c) Security of life
d) Free speech

Show Answer

Ans: c) Security of life

2] Which among the following is an Instrumentalist theory?
a) Marxist
b) Feminist
c) Social Constructivist
d) Copenhagen School

Show Answer

Ans: a) Marxist

3] Which among the following is a Reflectivist Theory?
a) Liberal
b) Realist
c) Social Constructivist
d) Marxist

Show Answer

Ans: c) Social Constructivist

4] “According to Liberals, which of the following are reasons for Insecurity?
Absence of Democracy
Protectionist policies”
a) 1,2&3
b) 1,3&4
c) 2,3&4
d) 1,2&4

Show Answer

Ans: b) 1,3&4 correct. According to Liberals Capitalism is not reason for insecurity

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neha singh

sir in the Copenhagen school, what is a security issue, depends on how we talk about it. isn’t it?

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