Global Security Cultures: A Theoretical Framework for analysing Security in Transition

This paper introduces the concept of security cultures as a theoretical framework to enable scholars to make sense of the competing ideas and practices that currently characterise the field of security. Security is an ambiguous term that can mean both an objective, say safety from violence, and an apparatus ranging from military forces to locking doors. A security culture combines both objectives and practices. The paper shows how security cultures differ from the widely used term ‘strategic culture’ in that it involves a shift from strategic to security (with less emphasis on the military), from national to global in that it defines cultures in terms of ways of doing things rather than in national terms, and investigates the various mechanisms for the construction of culture. It defines four ideal types as analytical tools to delineate the borders between cultures: Geo-Politics, New Wars, Liberal Peace and the War on Terror. It relates the concept to other theoretical frameworks both in sociology and political science and in Science and Technology Studies. And it concludes by arguing that whereas the Cold War was characterised by a single global geo-Political culture, to-day’s security landscape is characterised by competing cultures.

Security Cultures Working Paper 2016


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