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date: 24 September 2017

Securitization Theory and Foreign Policy Analysis

Summary and Keywords

Since it was launched in the mid-1990s, the concept of securitization has consistently been in vogue, at least among European scholars of world politics and security studies. The idea of viewing security as intersubjective, where anyone or anything can be a threat if constructed as such, is both an appealing and useful conceptualization when analyzing security issues beyond the traditional, realist, state-centric view of security being equal to military issues. However, the precise aspects that make securitization appealing have also limited its broader impact on security studies or foreign policy analysis (FPA), as these fields often adhere to the assumption of threats being actor-based and external. Nevertheless, several studies demonstrate that both the theoretical assumptions of securitization theory and prior empirical applications of these assumptions are useful when analyzing different policy and security issues, and the concept can be applied to a broad range of issue areas, contexts, and actors. In order to capture the applicability of securitization theory to the study of foreign policy, this article will set out to describe and review the central assumptions of securitization theory and the different conceptual developments that have taken place since its inception. I thereafter proceed to outline different issue areas to which securitization has been employed, focusing on both domestic and external military and nonmilitary threats. This review of prior works demonstrates that although many studies are not self-proclaimed analyses of foreign policy, they capture important dynamics of the internal-external security nexus that epitomizes politics in the globalized era. The article concludes with a discussion of the added value that a securitization framework can bring to FPA.

Keywords: Securitization, foreign policy, Copenhagen School, international relations, threat constructions, security


Since it was launched in the mid-1990s, the concept of securitization has consistently been in vogue, at least among European scholars of security. North American security studies have in general been less inclined to embrace the notion of security as a speech act (Watson, 2012). The reason for this might be conceptual; traditional security studies do not agree with the idea that anyone or anything can be a security issue and solely link the notion of security to the military threats of antagonistic states (cf. Walt, 1991). The reason also could concern ontological differences; securitization theory views threats as intersubjectively constructed phenomena, while more realist-oriented outlooks on security see threats as contextually given in the anarchic system. Still, a vast record of securitization analyses demonstrates that the key assumptions of securitization are malleable enough to appeal to more mainstream security studies and are useful for analyzing a broad range of issue areas, contexts, and actors. In turn, this indicates that although securitization theory previously has not been viewed as a self-evident theory for foreign policy analysis (FPA), it clearly can make a useful contribution to this field—particularly when foreign policy intersects with security. Because of its actor-based focus in terms of security as a speech act, as well as its analytical flexibility, as it can be applied to both military and nonmilitary security issues, the securitization framework can help to identify and pinpoint threat construction processes and thereby explaining foreign policy choices with regard to security matters.

In the following section, this article describes and reviews the central assumptions of securitization theory and the different conceptual developments that have taken place since its inception. It thereafter proceeds to outline different issue areas to which securitization has been employed, focusing on both domestic and external military and nonmilitary threats. This review of prior works demonstrates that many studies of securitization capture important dynamics of the internal-external security nexus that epitomizes politics in the globalized era. The article concludes with a discussion of the added value that a securitization framework can bring to FPA.

Securitization—a Framework for Analysis

Since the mid-1990s, the premises of securitization theory have been employed to structure the empirical analysis of how threat issues are moved onto the security agenda by political actors. Securitization concerns the process of threat construction and can be linked to different types of framing and discourse theories, as it views security as a speech act (Waever, 1995). The intellectual antecedent of its ontological point of departure is found in Buzan’s groundbreaking notion of a deepening and broadening of the security concept (Buzan, 1983, 1991). In essence, the deepening aspect concerns the inclusion of other levels of analysis besides the state level. Broadening means that security can be divided into five sectors: military security, political security, economic security, societal security, and environmental security. Although these sectors overlap and are analytically related, the identification of five different areas in which threats to the individual, the group, or the nation can arise is an important move from a static and objectivist view of threats and security.

Buzan’s reconceptualization of security set the main premises of securitization as originally suggested by the so-called Copenhagen School. In short, the concept of securitization emphasizes that speech matters in the construction of threat images and execution of security policy (Buzan, Waever, & de Wilde, 1998). This means that the statements of so-called securitizing actors are to be viewed as “performatives as opposed to constatives” (Balzacq, 2011, p. 1), as they help to shape the contextual setting and construct different threat images of that setting, rather than solely being reflections of an objective state of affairs. When the securitizing actor frames an issue as an existential threat to a referent object (for instance, being the nation-state), a so-called securitizing move has been made. This framing commands action and obligates as well as enables the securitizing actor to a particular subsequent behavior: If you construct a threat image, you more or less have to handle this threat.

The key interaction in a securitization process is between the actor that frames an issue as a threat, and the collective toward which the securitization move is directed. Who these actors are remains an underspecified part of the theory, but it is generally suggested that the securitizing actor must be someone with some degree of discursive authority and who represents a broader collective such as a state, a nongovernmental organization (NGO), a rebel group, or a political party. The conception of audience is related to the securitizing actor; if the latter is the head of government, the audience could be the broader political elite in Parliament, the general public, or both. What is important is that a securitization requires both the framing of an issue as an existential threat and the acceptance of this framing strategy. In this process, the subjective securitizing move becomes an intersubjective securitized issue that is recognized by both securitizer and audience. Also, if these two steps in the securitization process are met, the issue is moved from the arena of ordinary or everyday politics to the field of security. In other words, the securitizing actor is empowered to move the issue onto the security agenda, and in turn designate resources and draft policies to handle the threat.

Securitization Theory and Foreign Policy AnalysisClick to view larger

Figure 1. The securitization process

It should be noted, however, that the securitization framework is not deterministic in the sense that every move that is presented to an audience is accepted automatically. Although, as in most cases where the dog does not bark, studies of failed moves are much less investigated than successful cases of securitization, and some studies show how securitizing moves can be rejected by one audience while being accepted by another. One study of the securitization process preceding Britain’s invasion of Iraq demonstrates that although the political elite eventually accepted the move, the British public did not (Roe, 2008).

Another aspect of securitization, and the other side of the same coin, is desecuritization, or when a securitized issue is moved from the security sphere back to so-called normal politics (Waever, 1995). Although many claim that the concept of desecuritization is underdeveloped and underspecified (Hansen, 2012), there is a growing field of studies that try to probe the securitization–desecuritization dynamic with regard to different empirical issue areas such as minority rights or ex-combatants in post–civil war settings (e.g., Roe, 2004; MacKenzie, 2009). Donnelly (2015) examines processes of desecuritization by exploring how different forms of securitizing moves became possible and were conducted with regard to British–Irish relations. Glover (2011) argues that with regard to migration, there are many societal discourses of contestation that challenge the dominant political securitization, and that these societal movements are to be viewed as a parallel process of desecuritization.

Conceptual Developments

Different critiques have been raised against the securitization framework since its inception, and these, coupled with various attempts at theoretical development, have contributed to the creation of a lively research field (for an important and informative overview, see Balzacq, Léonard, & Ruzicka, 2016). A large number of studies have been devoted to probing an almost endless list of theoretical and conceptual aspects of securitization, such as the ontology and epistemology of the securitization framework, the theoretical nature(s) of securitization, the different entities of the framework, and the politics of securitization (e.g., Balzacq, 2005, 2011; Balzacq et al., 2014; McDonald, 2008, Pram & Petersen, 2011; Stritzel, 2007; Williams, 2003).

More specifically, one key criticism is that the original take on the theory places too extensive emphasis on the speech act itself, as it argues that “the way to study securitization is to study discourse” (Buzan et al., 1998, p. 25). Subsequent contributions to securitization theory emphasize instead the importance and interaction of “practices, context, and power relations” (Balzacq, 2011, p. 1). For instance, “the performative power of a speech act cannot be captured only in the abstract and in the form of a single linguistic act, but needs to be contextually located within broader structures” (Stritzel, 2014, p. 46). Linked to this is the argument that the theory’s emphasis on the speech act does not always work well in settings outside the traditional Western democracy, as they sometimes suffer from a “silent security dilemma” (Hansen, 2000, p. 287). This means that in some contexts, many people, and sometimes even public figures in leading positions, do not possess “the ability to express societal security concerns actively” (Wilkinson, 2007, p. 12) due to such elements as systematic oppression prohibiting free speech, or fear of repercussion from adversaries. Thus, in order for securitization theory to be empirically applicable in a broad sense, some critics argue that

The semantic repertoire of security is a combination of textual meaning—knowledge of the concept acquired through language (written and spoken)—and cultural meaning—knowledge historically gained through previous interactions and situations.

(Balzacq, 2005, p. 183)

These calls for contextualization of both the roles and discursive powers of the securitizing actors, as well as of the actual securitizing move, connect to a second area of contestation and, thereby, development of securitization theory. The question of whether securitization “successfully ‘travels’” empirically (Ilgit & Klotz, 2014, p. 138) or whether it is stuck in a “Westphalian straitjacket” (Wilkinson, 2007, p. 11) has been an issue of concern. Critics argue that due to its European ethnocentrism, securitization theory has limited analytical powers in settings “that are characterized by different configurations of state-society dynamics” (Bilgin, 2011, p. 401). At the same time, it has been stressed that it is not any inherent design problem of the securitization framework that prevents its application to non-European settings, but rather, this is another example of when scholarly disciplines do not intersect. To the contrary, it could actually be argued that due to its reflective nature, securitization theory is better suited than many other theories to analyze a variety of threat constructions and policies in a broad range of settings. Also, this claimed bias could be “an empirical question—i.e. to study non-Western cases with particular attention to possible limitations stemming from Western assumptions” (Greenwood & Waever, 2013, p. 486).

A third area of scholarly attention concerns the audience to which the securitizing move is directed, and whose acceptance is required for an issue to be securitized (for a metasynthesis on relevant works on securitization and audience, see Côté, 2016). Critics stress that “the role played by the audience in securitization processes lacks precision and clarity” (Léonard & Kaunert, 2011, p. 58), and it has been suggested that the audience should rather be viewed as several different entities which “depend on the function the securitization act is intended to serve” (Vuori, 2008, p. 72). In other words, a securitizing act can be directed to different audiences based on what the securitizing actor intends to achieve with the securitizing move, such as convincing the political elite, gaining public support, or getting attention from the broader international sphere (Roe, 2008; Salter, 2008). The vagueness of the audience concept can also be linked to the issue of whether threats are subjectively or intersubjectively constructed. One the one hand, securitization theory as it originally has been framed stresses the illocutionary aspect of speech acts, meaning that an actor subjectively constructs the threat image. On the other hand, the threat image is not securitized until it has been intersubjectively recognized as a threat—that is, until the audience has accepted it. This indicates that the perlocutionary aspect, or effects of the securitizing move, are central. Critics argue that this dynamic has not been fully addressed by the Copenhagen School, something that can be remedied by placing more attention to context and to securitizer–audience interaction (e.g., Balzacq, 2011).

A final area of problematization concerns whether there are normative aspects embedded in securitization theory. Some argue that the securitization process is inherently negative, as it bypasses normal democratic procedures and fast-tracks issues into the secretive and undoubtedly hostile realm of security (Aradau, 2004). Others say that the secretiveness associated with securitization is exaggerated and that the outcome of a securitization process is not always antagonistic (Roe, 2012). Floyd argues in her work on the environmental sector that both referent objects and securitizing actors can benefit from securitization and that “not all securitizations are morally equal” (Floyd, 2010, p. 56). In other words, to lift an issue to the security agenda can thus, depending on context, have positive aspects. For instance, highlighting environmental security can have positive effects for the broader public, as it contributes to a healthier environment. This aspect of contextuality applies to other securitization issues as well. In his well-cited article, Elbe (2006) probes arguments both against and for the framing of HIV/AIDS as a matter of security rather than a health issue. Arguments against securitization—such as the risk of overriding human rights and civil liberties, or that people living with HIV/AIDS are framed as “dangerous ‘outsiders’ and a threat to society” (Elbe, 2006, p. 130)—are contrasted against arguments for it, such as state mobilization and increased resources to handle the threat. In all, Elbe concludes that the moral dilemmas can be decreased by stressing that the virus, not the people, constitutes the threat. In a further development of the discussion on the normative aspects of securitization, Floyd (2011, p. 427) proposes

three criteria that—if fulfilled at the same time—would render a securitization morally right. The criteria are: (1) that there is an objective existential threat; (2) that the referent object of security is morally legitimate; and (3) that the security response is appropriate to the threat in question.

These criteria, she argues, make possible the normative evaluation of securitization processes and help analysts to establish whether a particular case of securitization is morally right.

Migration, Epidemics, or Military Threats—Endless Analytical Possibilities

Although the theoretical critiques and conceptual developments in the field of securitization have been significant, it is in the area of empirical applications that the securitization framework clearly has made an impact on security studies. As stressed by Balzacq et al. (2016, p. 507), the “empirical enquires have played a decisive part in the development of studies of securitization . . . [and] are not merely limited to applying existing concepts.” This means that a broad range of empirical works that employ the assumptions postulated by securitization theory have contributed to new readings of the theory, which increases its applicability to the broader field of security studies, as well as to FPA.

Migration and Minority Rights

An overview of previous research indicates that a multitude of issue areas have been analyzed in a number of different empirical contexts. Three main areas are highlighted in this article. First, threat constructions connected to societal security (or, more precisely, issues regarding migration or minority rights) constitute one important field in which securitization has been employed. Several studies demonstrate how migration and minority issues are securitized by being framed as threats to different aspects of in-group identity—both in terms of national identity or a broader “Western” or “democratic” Self. As early as 1987, the relation between migration and securitization was highlighted by Jahn, Lemaitre, and Wæver (1987). In his seminal article, Huysmans (2000) argues that migration is constructed as a security issue and a foreign policy threat to the European Union by being linked to international crime and terrorism.

This threat framing, in turn, is connected to a more general framing strategy that portrays immigrants as problems for the upkeep of national identity, labor market, and welfare systems (Huysmans, 2000). A number of studies have continued to investigate different aspects of the securitization-migration dynamic. Léonard (2010) argues that the security practices by FRONTEX, the European Union’s agency for external border control, contribute to the securitization of migration in the European Union. By placing particular emphasis on practices, she also contributes theoretically to securitization theory by highlighting that context and practices, not just speech acts, can be securitizing moves. In a similar vein, Bigo (2014) argues that routines and everyday structures are more important than discourses when trying to understand the notions of borders and border control and their relation to practices of (in)securitization. Although much of the work linking securitization and migration focuses on the European Union, there are examples of applications of securitization to non-European contexts and where the theoretical concepts can “travel.” Curley and Wong (2008), for instance, use the securitization framework to examine the securitization process regarding unregulated and illegal migration in Asia, focusing on sending, transit, and receiving countries. Ilgit and Klotz (2014) analyze the immigration policies of South Africa by testing four claims embedded in the securitization debate: (a) whether there are securitizing moves regarding immigration performed by securitizing actors; (b) where these speech acts have become practices in bureaucratic procedures; (c) whether these discourses are challenged by society, and how these challenges are linked to identity-based contestation; and (d) whether successful securitization expands societal identity constructions. This systematic study of testing claims empirically demonstrates that the assumptions of securitization can very well travel outside the normal European applications, and that “the societal security concept merits greater integration into comparative studies of immigration policy and immigrant incorporation” (Ilgit & Klotz, 2014, p. 150).

With a separate focus, but nevertheless concerning securitization processes related to identity and society, some studies analyze how minority groups can be the subject of securitization. Some argue that the very issue of minority rights is “predicated on an inherent condition of securitization” (Roe, 2004, p. 280). In other words, this claim indicates that the minority group is linked, both by itself and by others, to a security discourse that is actually necessary to maintain group identity. In turn, this makes desecuritization of a minority issue impossible since that would end group cohesion. Other studies have empirically investigated the relationship between securitization and minority rights and, more specifically, how the European Union, the Council of Europe, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have tried to desecuritize the minority issue and transform interethnic relations in various ways (Galbreath & McEvoy, 2012).


Epidemics, particularly HIV/AIDS, constitute another major field of analysis in which different aspects of securitization theory have been employed. Although traditional security studies clearly refute disease as a topic of security (Walt, 1991, p. 213), the empirical record actually demonstrates otherwise, as the Security Council of the United Nations in January 2000 dedicated an entire meeting to the discussion of HIV/AIDS as an international security threat, and six months later, it passed Resolution 1308 on the same topic. It was the first time that a nonmilitary issue had been the sole topic in this forum on international security.

Using this international securitization of AIDS as a point of departure, a number of studies have investigated securitization processes in different contexts and involving different actors. It is sometimes suggested that the speech acts and actions performed by the international community began during the 1990s to collectively constitute an international norm of securitizing the epidemic. This norm was subsequently diffused by a number of actors, including states, organizations, and transnational advocacy networks (Viera, 2007). Once settled, it is argued that this norm influenced and shaped policy nationally and locally. However, norm internalization with regard to accepting and handling the HIV/AIDS epidemic has varied, with some actors contesting the norm.

The securitization of HIV/AIDS in Russia is a case in point. At the State Council Presidium Meeting in the spring of 2006, Russian president Vladimir Putin acknowledged that Russia faced a grave threat from HIV/AIDS and suggested a number of major policy changes and resources to stop it. This was a seminal event in Russian politics, as the internal AIDS epidemic never had been discussed in this manner at this level of decision-making. To the contrary, due to domestic and international identity constructions, Russian decision-makers resisted norm acceptance, thereby hindering norm internalization despite facing one of the world’s most rapid rates of infection. This case demonstrates that “although the world presents decisionmakers with a range of complex situations that could be interpreted as threatening, only some of these issues generate socially constructed problem formulations” (Sjöstedt, 2008, p. 8). It also shows that the logic behind securitizing moves needs to be problematized.

A similar study—but one that investigates the securitization process of HIV/AIDS in the United States—shows the opposite process: that different American societal and political forces acted as important norm entrepreneurs, creating recognition of AIDS as a serious security issue. This process resulted in President Bill Clinton’s 1995 securitizing move that constructed the sub-Saharan AIDS pandemic as an international and national security threat, requiring emergency measures (Sjöstedt, 2011). This study demonstrates that not only does the international HIV/AIDS securitization norm, epitomized by the Security Council meeting, originate in domestic processes, but also that securitization processes are not necessarily negative; the emergency measures in both this case and the Russian case did not further stigmatize infected individuals, but rather allocated necessary institutional actions and resources. This focus on the important function of actors at different levels of analysis and in different contexts agrees with the idea that securitization should be viewed as intrinsically related on multiple levels, as also suggested by McInnes and Rushton (2013).

Military Security

A third empirical area in which securitization theory has been an important tool for analysis concerns military threats and terrorism. This traditional area of security studies has been proven to gain from a nontraditional security framework like securitization, as it highlights power relations and processes that a traditional state-centric approach focusing on antagonistic states would not capture. Also here, the subjective—or intersubjective—construction of threat images is central. Any other actor can constitute a threat, but only when a decision-making unit sees it as such does the threat actually exist. One example of how securitization can be employed in a traditional interstate or regional security setting examines how the African Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have securitized and dealt with transnational threats and security challenges (Haacke & Williams, 2008). Another study analyzes how British foreign policies toward states on the African continent have shifted “from the category of ‘development/humanitarianism’ toward a category of ‘risk/fear/threat’ in the context of the ‘war on terrorism’” (Abrahamsen, 2005, p. 56). This securitization process is best understood as a gradual process, including not only “the continual production of enemies and existential threats” (Abrahamsen, 2005, p. 75), but also more liberal strategies of incorporation and threat management.

Another study also applying the assumptions of securitization to the military sector investigates the securitization and desecuritization processes of female ex-combatants in Sierra Leone (MacKenzie, 2009). It is argued that the desecuritization of female soldiers, a process that did not occur with regard to male soldiers, can be viewed as a form of silencing (cf. Hansen, 2000). Because of the immediate postconflict desecuritization of female combatants, who were highly securitized during the conflict, they have not been included in any disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs. This causes gender inequality in the postconflict reconstruction process and can have negative effects on the overall peace process. Lupovici (2016) shows how the Iranian nuclear program has been continuously securitized over time in the Israeli political discourse, with each successful securitization generating another one—now reaching a “securitization climax” (Lupovici, 2016, p. 413).

The securitization framework has also been employed in studies analyzing the process preceding armed conflict. Roe (2008) lays out the securitization process that eventually resulted in the decision by the British government, led by prime minister Tony Blair, to join U.S. troops and invade Iraq in 2003. He argues that the British government faced two main audiences: the British public and the political elite, particularly the Labour Party and, as a second step, the Parliament. The Blair government’s securitizing move, emphasizing the need for the extraordinary measure of going to war in order to handle the threat posed by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, did not convince the public. The Parliament, however, eventually relented to the idea. This study demonstrates the importance of problematizing the concept of the audience. Different audiences can have different functions in a securitization process, and the importance of a particular audience is contingent on what type of support the securitizer needs.

Studying the same case, but employing a theoretical framework that draws from both securitization and social identity theory, Hayes (2016) argues that a deeply rooted sense of democratic identity made it possible for the Blair government to construct Iraq as a threat, even though Iraq did not pose an obvious threat to Britain. This shows that constructions of an in-group’s type identity can play an important part in explaining both why a securitizing move is made in the first place and whether the audience accepts the move. In this case, the British public came to view Iraq as a threat but did not agree that military force should be the preferred policy response.

A similar argument that focuses on the linkage among securitization, social identities, and the democratic peace theory helps to explain why an audience completely rejects the move. In this study (Hayes, 2012), the identity of being a democratic state hinders military action against another democratic state. Sjöstedt (2007) also connects securitization and identity in her investigation of the discursive processes leading up to two American foreign policy/security doctrines: the Truman doctrine and the Bush doctrine. She argues that the emergence of these two decisive shifts in U.S. foreign policy cannot be explained solely by the objective instances of threat—Soviet expansionism and 9/11, respectively. Instead, by tracing political and societal discourses in which securitizing moves are linked to prevalent norms and identity constructions, she highlights how these doctrines were made possible. This approach also demonstrates that an epistemology of discourse analysis permitted within the realms of securitization theory can provide more comprehensive explanation than would a traditional study on security that focuses on strategic action-reaction exchanges between states in the anarchic system.

Conclusion: What Can Securitization Theory Bring to Foreign Policy Analysis?

This overview of a broad range of empirical studies demonstrates that securitization theory can be applied to a number of different issues, contexts, and actors. It has also shown that securitization is not necessarily a “European” theory; rather, it is very well suited for the analysis of threats and security from other national perspectives. Although securitization has increasingly become established within the broader and more general fields of International Relations and security studies, these research areas are not tantamount to the specific field of FPA.

The question, therefore, becomes whether securitization is applicable to this subfield as well, and what contribution it then can make to FPA. Although the majority of prior securitization studies have not explicitly positioned themselves as studies of FPA and have not connected theoretically to prior works of this field, there is an increasing number of works dealing with foreign policy problems as constructions of threat, and there is “a growing literature that links securitization theory to foreign policy analysis” (Hayes, 2016, p. 335). However, when looking at the brief—and, naturally, far from exhaustive—overview given in this article of different empirical applications of securitization, it becomes apparent that the linkage to foreign policy is most obvious in the works dealing with the sector of military security, where the majority of the exemplified studies try to explain foreign policy decisions by American and British decision-making units or, in the case of Haacke and Williams (2008) and Lupovici (2016), to investigate regional security and organization.

The same can be said about the studies exploring the relationship between securitization and immigration, since both the practices by FRONTEX and the decision-making by the European Union clearly concern foreign policy processes. A number of other examples of studies using the securitization framework in the examination of different topics are less clear-cut cases of foreign policy, however, as the threat images do not stem from an external other and the strategies directed to handle the threats are not international or foreign policies. MacKenzie’s (2009) and Sjöstedt’s (2008) analyses, for example, do not concern external others and the respective outcomes of those securitization processes are the domestic policies of DDR-processes and domestic strategies for battling AIDS.

This article nonetheless concludes that those analyses of domestic threat construction processes can be relevant to the field of foreign policy analysis for two main reasons. First, the theoretical assumptions of securitization theory, as well as the subsequent theoretical developments, have proved to work in a number of settings and with regard to a number of problem areas. The construction of threat images and the interaction between securitizing actors and different audiences in order to move these images onto the political agenda constitute a universally relevant process. Also, the questions of speech acts versus practices, the negative aspects of securitization, and the moral consequences of successful securitization processes are clearly applicable to the analysis of specific foreign policies. In particular, the last aspect is clearly evident in the exemplified analyses dealing with military issues, as the decision-makers using war as an emergency measure placed great emphasis on constructing the war as being a “just war,” serving a righteous purpose.

Second, with regard to the examples of societal securitizations that do not generate explicit foreign policies, the discussion of their theoretical and empirical relevance should be linked to a broader one on the separation of internal and external politics. As argued by Hayes (2016, p. 335), a general tendency has developed within the field of IR “to explicitly explore the interlinkage between domestic socio-political systems and international behavior.” Eriksson and Rhinard (2009, p. 244) takes this idea one step further and argues that in the field of security attention should be turned to

the ‘nexus’, or critical connections, between the internal and external security domains and assess how those connections condition government responses. Five dimensions of the security nexus stand out and can be summarized as problems, perceptions, policies, politics and polity.

In other words, today’s security issues are transboundary in nature and the traditional external–internal security divide must be bridged in order to handle the security issues effectively. The separation of domestic or international problems and the designation of separate sets of solutions to these problems are thus called into question. Eriksson and Rhinard (2009, p. 251) stress the interconnectedness of threats and argue that the core concepts manifested in securitization point in that direction:

While not explicitly addressing the internal–external security nexus, some of the issues that have been studied using securitization theory are implicitly about how the boundary between domestic and international security is transcended, such as how international migration, infectious diseases, and transnational pollution have been securitized.

It can thus be argued that the role of security in the contemporary globalized international system ontologically becomes a nexus of the internal and the external, and that all security issues are interconnected to public and foreign policies. Regardless, if one agrees with that security ontology, it can be concluded that securitization theory has begun to become an established theoretical approach in the broader field of security studies, as well as in the more specific area of FPA. Owing to its conceptual malleability, it is a useful approach when investigating a broad range of problem areas in different contexts. Also, because of the attention placed on the different entities of the securitization process, it helps to pinpoint and highlight important dynamics in the process of recognizing threats and issuing policies to handle these threats that other approaches, which view threat as objective and given, would fail to consider.


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