Summary and major points
Security is an essential part of society. However, security matters are politically influenced in most cases, and thus coming up with a concise definition has been a challenge. In this regard, security is politically indispensable since it plays a significant role in determining the distribution of power and resources in society (Williams 1). Thus, the development of the discipline of security studies is founded on the interpretation of security among different groups, comprehending the present, and influencing the future. This aspect is depicted by the massive budgetary allocations for security as opposed to the health, education, or development sectors (Williams 2). This paper focuses on an overview of the development of the field of security studies and the definition of the inquiry field.
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Since there are diverse perspectives on defining security, the same case is evident in the different perceptions regarding security studies. The etymology of security studies depicts that security developed from the beginning of man’s existence (Williams 2). As a discipline, the study emerged after the Second World War when it was categorized as a subfield of the discipline of International Relations (IR). The ‘golden age’ of its development was between 1950 and 1960 before further influence from the Cold War events (Williams 3).
1983 brought new light to understanding the field as Barry Buzan defined security studies from the military, political, economic, societal, and environmental aspects (Williams 3). Currently, problems have developed as parties differ on considering security studies as an IR’s subfield. Thus, the bias of the traditional definition of security, which was affiliated to the Westerners, demands the separation of International Relations from Security Studies through a scientific approach in the contemporary world (Williams 5).
Security studies can be defined from four major perspectives. The perspectives include the definition of security, the parties the security belongs to, what is regarded as a security issue, and the way security can be attained (Williams 6). The definition of security is based on a philosophical perspective that describes it as the mitigation of threats to precious values that determine society’s survival. Thus, two approaches define security. The first approach interprets security as the accumulation of power implying that it is derived from it while the second one sees security as the promotion of justice and human rights (Williams 7).
A referent object is important for understanding who is secured when the issue of security is discussed (Williams 8). The reference to security was regarded to safeguard the interests of the ‘state’. Thus, the need to bring about the notion of ‘human security’ and ‘society’ emerged before it was viewed from an ecological angle. Determining what adds up as a security issue requires identifying the referent parties whose precious values are under threat. The military aspect and the mitigation of society’s crucial and immediate threats are regarded as the referent objects of security (Williams 9).
Different actors can help to achieve security in contemporary societies through conscious effort. Thus, the level of tolerance before the stakeholders decide to intervene determines their effectiveness in promoting security (Williams 9). States are regarded as key stakeholders that foster the attainment of security through policies. International organizations are also key players in facilitating the realization of security. Influential personalities are also capable of leading the way towards the attainment of security (Williams 10).
The key issues in this chapter include defining security studies and the four fundamental questions that form the core of security matters as indicated in this paper.
Williams, Paul. Security Studies: An Introduction, New York: Routledge, 2008. Print.