Why is ‘security’ such a contested concept? Essay

Why is ‘security’ such a contested concept? Essay

Length: 785 words (2.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Why is ‘security’ such a contested concept?
The foreign, military and economic policies of states, the intersections of these policies in areas of change or dispute, and the general structure of relations which they create, are all analysed in terms of aspirations to achieve national and/or international security. Security is most commonly associated with the alleviation of threats to cherished values (Williams; 2008). However this is a definition that is undesirably vague and a reflection of the inherent nature of security as an ‘essentially contested concept’ (Gallie; 1962). Security in the modern day context has many key concepts associated with it: uncertainty, war, terrorism, genocide and mass killing, ethnic conflict, coercion, human security, poverty, environmental damage, health and of course the traditional notion of military security. Such concepts necessary generate unsolvable debates about their meaning and application because, as Richard Little points out, they ‘contain an ideological element which renders empirical evidence irrelevant as a means of resolving the dispute’. In this essay then I will attempt to explore the various contested concepts of security and explain how and why this contestation was derived.
Until the rise of economic and environmental concerns in the 1970s the concept of security was seldom addressed in terms other than the policy interests of particular actors, and right up to the end of the 1980s the discussion still had a heavy military emphasis. Arnold Wolfers, in his 1962 article, characterized security as an ‘ambiguous symbol’ – at one point he argues that it ‘may not have any precise meaning at all’ – is a reflection of the multi-dimensional complexities of the concept. There exists tod...

... middle of paper ...

... leverage over domestic affairs which can be obtained by invoking it, offers scope for power- maximizing strategies to political and military elites.

Works Cited

BROWN, Michael (eds.): The international Dimensions of International Conflict (MIT Press; 1996)
BUZAN, Barry: People, States & Fear: An Agenda for International Security Studies in the Post-Cold War Era (Harvester Wheatshef; 1991)
HOFFMAN, Bruce: Inside Terrorism (Indigo; 1998) HOUGH, Peter: Understanding Global Security: Routledge; 2004)
KATZENSTEIN, Peter (eds.): The Culture of National Security – Normals and Identity in World Politics (Columbia; 1996)
KOLODZIEJ, Edward: Security and International Relations (Cambridge; 2005)
NOLAN, Janne: Global Engagement – Cooperation and Security in the 21st Century (Brookings Institution; 1994)
WILLIAMS, Paul: Security Studies: An Introduction (Routledge; 2008)

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Culture And Economics : A Contested Relationship Essay

- Culture and Economics: A Contested Relationship To answer the age-old question of whether culture influences economics or economics influences culture, it may be of use to determine the etymology of the very word. The initial meaning of ‘culture,’ which traces back to fifteenth century France, denoted the tilling of land. This original connotation offers a link between culture and the economy, as people during this era cultivated the land for agricultural purposes and trade. While this definition has undergone great changes over the years, coming to signify the collective ideology of a particular group of people, its relationship to economics has long been a subject of historical debate....   [tags: Sociology, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Capitalism]

Better Essays
1968 words (5.6 pages)

Essay Contested Meaning

- This essay is supposed to be on “contested meaning,” an argument over what is the true meaning of something, of someone. The only problem with that is that meaning is just something that humans make up. All of this “meaning” that humans talk about is just a bunch of connections that we have made through knowledge of other connections we have made. If we step far enough back in time we can take the example of an non-sentient creature. This creature has been imbued with some patterns that their ancestors have seen to not change throughout generations, and we have given these the name of instincts....   [tags: Language]

Better Essays
1217 words (3.5 pages)

Essay on Is State Terrorism A Valid Concept?

- ... And this paper contends that state violence should not be labelled as terrorism. This is in-regards to traditional theories that declare states have legitimate monopoly of violence that can be exercised to protect the state’s authority and power over their sovereignty ( ). The normative dimensions of state violence relate to “the long established doctrines of sovereignty, by which states are free to use virtually any coercive means to maintain internal control” (Gurr, 1986: 48). Therefore, state violence, at times, could take the form of terrorism....   [tags: Terrorism, United Nations]

Better Essays
1279 words (3.7 pages)

Concept of Security in the Context of International Relations Essay

- The most commonly used definition by scholars is the definition of Barry Buzan in his book People, States, and Fear says that: "Security, in any objective sense, measures the absence of threat to acquired values, in a wiki sense, the absence of fear that such values will be attacked" (Buzan, 1991:4). Then from the definitions that have been mentioned by the penstudi HI can be seen that the security threat is the lack of values needed to live a human life. While the concept of a threat to its own security Ullman defined as: "An action or sequence of events that (1) Threatens drastically and over A relatively brief span of time to degrade the quality of life for the inhabitants of a state or (...   [tags: international security, security system, military]

Better Essays
1791 words (5.1 pages)

The Concept of the Sublime In Relation to America Essay examples

- The Concept of the Sublime In Relation to America The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed a revival of the concept of the Sublime. The Sublime, as a notion, first reached English theorists by way of Nicholas Boileau-Despréaux’s translation of the Greek text attributed to Longinus titled “On the Sublime,” which discussed the Sublime within writing. The work categorized sublimity as raising men “almost to the intellectual greatness of God” (Longinus, 76). Once raised to extreme intellectual heights the authors were then able to raise others to the limits of their being....   [tags: Philosophy Philosophical Essays]

Better Essays
2054 words (5.9 pages)

Contested Plains by Elliot West Essay

- There are many ways in which we can view the history of the American West. One view is the popular story of Cowboys and Indians. It is a grand story filled with adventure, excitement and gold. Another perspective is one of the Native Plains Indians and the rich histories that spanned thousands of years before white discovery and settlement. Elliot West’s book, Contested Plains: Indians, Goldseekers and the Rush to Colorado, offers a view into both of these worlds. West shows how the histories of both nations intertwine, relate and clash all while dealing with complex geological and environmental challenges....   [tags: american west, indians, great plains]

Better Essays
1191 words (3.4 pages)

Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind Essay

- Gilbert Ryle's The Concept of Mind In The Concept of Mind Gilbert Ryle attempts, in his own words, to 'explode the myth' of Cartesian dualism. His primary method in this endeavour is to explain why it is a logical error to describe minds and bodies with semantically similar language; while secondarily, he proposes that even to speak of 'minds' as a second-order ontology is to take the first step in the wrong direction towards intellectual clarity. Thus, with the desire to arrive at this hypothetical locale, the following peripatetic discussion will set out with Ryle at his point of departure, viz....   [tags: Concept Mind Gilbert Ryle Papers]

Better Essays
2427 words (6.9 pages)

Self Concept Through Interpersonal Communication Essay

- I chose the topic of self-concept through interpersonal communication because I had an interest in it. This interest is because I didn’t understand that one’s self-concept affected the way one is perceived by others. I learned self-concept through class discussions, but I wanted a better understanding of how communication affects one’s self-concept and how it affects one’s perception One's self-concept affects one's perception, attitude and behavior, which can be demonstrated during the process of interpersonal communication....   [tags: Self-Concept and Communication]

Better Essays
1272 words (3.6 pages)

Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind Essay

- Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind Gilbert Ryle’s The Concept of Mind (1949) is a critique of the notion that the mind is distinct from the body, and is a rejection of the philosophical theory that mental states are distinct from physical states. Ryle argues that the traditional approach to the relation of mind and body (i.e., the approach which is taken by the philosophy of Descartes) assumes that there is a basic distinction between Mind and Matter. According to Ryle, this assumption is a basic 'category-mistake,' because it attempts to analyze the relation betwen 'mind' and 'body' as if they were terms of the same logical category....   [tags: Ryle Concept Mind Philosophy Essays]

Better Essays
1095 words (3.1 pages)

Self-Concept Essay

- The Self-Concept is a complicated process of gaining self-awareness. It consists of mental images an individual has of oneself: physical appearance, health, accomplishments, skills, social talents, roles, intellectual traits, and emotional states and more –all make up our self-concept.      The development process begins at about six or seven months of age. The child begins to recognize “self” as distinct from surroundings. They stare at anything they see, including their own body parts; hands, feet, toes, and fingers....   [tags: Self Concept]

Better Essays
1467 words (4.2 pages)