International Security Studies: Theory and Practice


This accessible new textbook offers a detailed overview of the key concepts and current issues in international security studies.

We are all interested in "security". We search for it, we constantly pursue it, we deny it to others, and when we achieve it for ourselves, we relish it. Undoubtedly, feeling secure and well protected is one of humankind's most cherished goals. Our incessant search for security, however, remains one the most fiercely debated topics and to this day we ...

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This accessible new textbook offers a detailed overview of the key concepts and current issues in international security studies.

We are all interested in "security". We search for it, we constantly pursue it, we deny it to others, and when we achieve it for ourselves, we relish it. Undoubtedly, feeling secure and well protected is one of humankind's most cherished goals. Our incessant search for security, however, remains one the most fiercely debated topics and to this day we remain unconvinced of the best way to achieve what is, for many, an elusive commodity. This is compounded by a number of problems facing thinkers in the field. As a concept, “security” refers simply to the safety or protection of some entity. The first problem, therefore, is that confusion reigns over whether it is the state, individual or some other unit that ought to be prioritized and made secure. To use the correct jargon, what should the "referent object" be. The debate rages primarily between those who advocate the "state" and those who argue that the basic unit has to be the individual, but that is not the end of it since the second, related, problem, is the nature of the threats that face us. Again the academic world is divided between a variety opinions, with a significant number insisting that military force is central to world politics and that the primary actors are states. However, an increasingly influential viewpoint is that the focus on states and military force is far too narrow and does not consider a wider range of threats that both states and the individual have to face.
Finally, these problems are further compounded by what is perhaps the most important issue - defining the concept of "security". As the opening chapters of this book demonstrate, this problem remains central to the field of Security Studies and we are nowhere near resolving it. One way to manoeuvre safely within this minefield is to look at the possible definitions found in the various theoretical traditions. The many definitions of "security" are largely dependent upon which theory is acting as a lens at that particular point. This does help us, but only on a superficial level, since the rich array of perspectives available to us demonstrate that the concept is far from simple. Indeed, its multi-dimensional nature causes great confusion amongst those approaching the field for the very first time. Nevertheless, Security Studies is now a well-established discipline with a rich array of traditions each of which has something to say about the concept of security, the referent object and the nature of threats facing us.

This textbook will be essential reading for students of international security, critical security, human security and war and conflict studies.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'Viewed in the larger social context security embraces every dimension of human life, yet we persist in defining it according to our own narrow preoccupations. The authors of this book have done a signal service in bringing together in one volume so many diverse viewpoints. In doing so, they have added significantly to our understanding of war and peace.' -- Christopher Coker, London School of Economics, UK

'It has been commonly accepted for many years now that security is an essentially contested concept, and analysts have sought to find ways of expressing the full meaning of that realisation in forms that students can comfortably digest. There have been a number of such attempts. This volume achieves that end incredibly well. It does so through a comprehensiveness of approach and a subtlety of interpretation that will no doubt benefit successive cohorts of those studying this elusive concept.'--Stuart Croft, University of Warwick, UK

'An excellent teaching resource, written with students in mind, accessible, expansive in scope and yet detailed with a wide range of relevant case studies. An indispensable resource for undergraduate and postgraduate students. If you only buy one book on security this has to be it.'Lee Marsden, University of East Anglia, UK

'This collection of original essays succeeds brilliantly in its three central aims: to map the intellectual currents within the discipline of International Security Studies; to survey the contemporary international security environment; and to consider key cases. The book combines breadth with depth, enabling students to understand vital aspects of international politics. Recommended without reservation.’ -- John Dumbrell, Durham University, UK

'International Security Studies is an essential introductory text for students. It frames the core intellectual debates that have defined the discipline by giving readers an accessible grounding in a broad range of contending understandings of security from realism to post-colonialism. It provides a compelling overview of the contemporary security environment and explores a comprehensive listing of key topics from nuclear proliferation to natural disasters. Moreover, it offers detailed regional and thematic case studies as a means of demonstrating how the theoretical and conceptual insights of security studies can be applied to better understand the security dynamics that are critical to world politics. The variety of cases on offer will capture the imaginations of students from those interested in the security challenges emerging in the aftermath of the Arab Spring to those yearning to learn more about the militarization of outer-space. In sum, International Security Studies offers an excellent mix of theoretical and empirical material that delivers a comprehensive and sophisticated, yet student-friendly, overview of contemporary security studies.' -- Kyle Grayson, Newcastle University, UK

'This is an ambitious and successful book – which is good because it is also a necessary book. The authors present an exhaustive look at security with chapters on theoretical approaches, to chapters on old and new topics in security (such as the intersections of security with religion, the environment, and crime and security among others), to chapters on country case studies. This book will become the standard for security studies courses for its breadth, writing and consistency.' -- Laura Neack, Miami University, USA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415734356
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/6/2015
  • Pages: 496

Meet the Author

Peter Hough is Associate Professor in International Politics at Middlesex University, and author of The Global Politics of Pesticides (Earthscan 2008), Understanding Global Security (3rd edn, Routledge 2013), Environmental Security (Routledge 2014) and co-author of World Politics (2011).

Shahin Malilk is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at London Metropolitan University and co-author of World Politics (2011), co-editor of Deconstructing and Reconstructing the Cold War (1999) and co-author of Peacekeeping and the United Nations (1995).

Andrew Moran is Associate Professor of International Relations and a University Teaching Fellow at London Metropolitan University.

Bruce Pilbeam is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at London Metropolitan University and author of Conservatism in Crisis? (2003).

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Table of Contents

1: Introducing Security


2. Realism and Liberalism: Traditional Approaches to Security

3. Critical Security Studies: Challenging Orthodoxy

4. Remaining Critical: Gender and Security

5. Human Security: Hype or a Genuine Alternative Paradigm?

6. Constructivism


7. Nuclear Deterrence and Proliferation

8. The International Arms Trade in Conventional Weapons

9. Terrorism

10. Conflict and the Impact of Religion

11. Reflecting on War and Peace

12. Intelligence and Security

13. The Rise of Private Security and Military Companies

14. Failed States, Globalization and the 'New Wars Thesis'


15. Environmental Security and Energy Security

16. The Impact of Transnational Crime on State and Human Security

17. Food Security

18. Health and Security

19. Disasters, Vulnerability and Security


20. The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect

21. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization: NATO

22. Regional Institutions


The Great Powers

23.The United States: Finding a role in the post-Cold War and post 9/11 eras

24. Whither Russia: the Troublesome Road to Democracy

25. The Rise of China


26. European Security

27. Failing States and African Security

28. The Black Sea/Caucasus

29. The Arctic

30. South and West Asia

31. The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

32. Conflict on the Korean Peninsula

33. South America


34. The Future of Security Studies

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