Reconceptualizing the Audience in Securitization Theory

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Securitization theory has attracted much attention since it was first developed by the so-called ‘Copenhagen School’. In a nutshell, the Copenhagen School argues that an issue is transformed into a security issue (i.e. securitized) after a securitizing actor presents it as an existential threat and this ‘securitizing move’ is accepted by the ‘audience’ (Wæver 1995; Buzan, Wæver and de Wilde 1998). The original formulation of securitization theory is heavily influenced by linguistics, and more precisely the concept of ‘speech acts’, that is, discourses that do not ‘report on things’, but rather ‘do things’. Whilst the potential of this approach for contributing to the debates on the meaning of security in the post-Cold War era has been widely acknowledged, a consensus has also emerged around the idea that securitization theory in its original formulation by the Copenhagen School suffers from several weaknesses, including the significant under-theorization of several aspects of securitization processes (Barthwal-Datta 2009; Balzacq 2005; McDonald 2008; Stritzel 2007; Wilkinson 2007).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecuritization Theory
Subtitle of host publication How Security Problems Emerge and Dissolve
EditorsThierry Balzaq
ISBN (Electronic)978-0203868508
ISBN (Print)978-0415556286, 978-0415556279
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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