The Evolution of International Security Studies

This book is about the evolution of International Security Studies (ISS), in the beginning as an independent field of study, but quite quickly absorbed as a sub-field of International Relations (IR), which was developing rapidly alongside it.1 Like IR itself, ISS is mainly a Western subject, largely done in North America, Europe and Australia with all of the Western-centrisms that this entails. ISS is one of the main sub-fields of Western IR. Wherever IR is taught, ISS is one of its central elements.

ThereisanantecedentliteratureextendingbackbeforetheSecondWorld which can largely be characterized as war studies, military, and grand strategy, and geopolitics. This includes much-discussed writers such as Clausewitz, Mahan, Richardson Landhaus Hofer, whose works still remain relevant. But we are not going to cover this literature both for reasons of space, and also because distinctive literature about security developed after 1945 (Freedman, 1981a; Wæver and Buzan, 2007). This literature was distinctive in three ways.

First, it took security rather than defence or war as its key concept, a conceptual shift which opened up the study of a broader set of political issues, including the importance of societal cohesion and the relationship between military and non-military threats and vulnerabilities. The ability of a security to capture the conceptual centre of ISS dealing with defence, war and conflict as well as the broadness of the term was famously condensed in Wolfers’s definition of security as an ambiguous symbol. In laying out the ability of security policy to subordinate all other interests to those of the nation, Wolfers stressed the rhetorical and political force that ‘security’ entailed despite having very little intrinsic meaning (Wolfers, 1952: 481). Second, this literature was distinct because it addressed the novel problems of both the Cold War and nuclear weapons. How to deploy, use and not use military means

International Security Studies (ISS) has changed and diversified in many ways since 1945. This book provides the first intellectual history of the development of the subject in that period. It explains how ISS evolved from an initial concern with the strategic consequences of superpower rivalry and nuclear weapons, to its current diversity in which environmental, economic, human and other securities sit alongside military security, and in which approaches ranging from traditional Realist analysis to Feminism and Post-colonialism are in play. It sets out the driving forces that shaped debates in ISS, shows what makes ISS a single conversation across its diversity, and gives an authoritative account of debates on all the main topics within ISS. This is an unparalleled survey of the literature and institutions of ISS that will be an invaluable guide for all students and scholars of ISS, whether traditionalist, ‘new agenda’ or critical.

About Book

Title: The Evolution of International Security Studies
Authors: Barry Buzan, Research Professor of International Studies Centre for the Study of Democracy Barry Buzan, Lene Hansen
Edition: illustrated, reprint
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2009
ISBN: 0521872618, 9780521872614
Length: 384 pages

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