13 Pages

An introduction to security studies

ByPaul D. Williams, Matt McDonald

This chapter provides a brief overview of how the field of security studies has developed. It discusses four central questions that help delineate the contours of the field as it exists. The four questions are what is security? Whose security are we talking about? What counts as a security issue? How can security be achieved? Asking what security means raises issues about the philosophy of knowledge, especially those concerning epistemology, ontology and method. Once an analyst has decided on the meaning of security and whose security they are focusing upon, it is important to ask what counts as a security issue for that particular referent. This involves analysing the processes through which sources of insecurity are identified and threat agendas are constructed. In contemporary world politics, the agents of security can come in many shapes and sizes. The chapter also presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in this book.