Critical Security Studies

Paul Williams

in International Society and its Critics

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780199265206
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601866 | DOI:
Critical Security Studies

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The author submits that the English School of International Relations could usefully engage in a dialogue with the literature emerging under the umbrella label of Critical Security Studies (CSS), suggesting that the security of individuals should be incorporated into the understanding of international society. He begins by providing a brief description of CSS, identifying it as a deeper (in that it recognizes that security is derived from societal assumptions about the nature of politics), broader (in that it recognizes that security extends beyond the threat and use of military force), and more focused (on emancipation) approach to understanding security. He then frames his discussion of CSS and the English School around four central questions: the first asks what is security, the second asks whose security should be prioritized, and the third asks what counts as a security issue. The approaches of the English School of International Relations offer a restricted response to all three of these questions, and CSS also challenges the School's belief in the central value of international order by insisting that in the long run human emancipation may involve the removal of international order as the primary value. Finally, the author asks who or what can provide security – what is to be done to promote an emancipatory politics of security in the contemporary era.

Keywords: critical security studies; English School of International Relations; international order; international relations; international society; security; security issues; security of individuals

Chapter.  8098 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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