The Copenhagen School of security studies is a school of academic thought with its origins in international relations theorist Barry Buzan 's book People, States and Fear: The National Security Problem in International Relations , first published in The Copenhagen School places particular emphasis on the non-military aspects of security, representing a shift away from traditional security studies. Many of the school's members worked at the Copenhagen Peace Research Institute. Bill McSweeney is generally credited with coining the term 'Copenhagen School'. The concept of 'sectors' concerns the different arenas where we speak of security.

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Security and identity are two concepts that deeply intertwined on many different levels, and cannot be separated. Not all scholars would agree with this point of view, however. The dominant neo-realist paradigm ignores the role of identity in security; this approach will be analysed first, and largely dismissed. The Copenhagen School process of securitising a threat to identity will then be critically analysed, before looking at the various ways identities can be defended or secured from said threats.

The essay will conclude that security and identity produce each other, and cannot be separated. Neorealism dominated late twentieth century International Relations. One of the key theoretical assumptions of neorealism is that all states are unitary. According to neorealists, the relationship between identity and security is minimal for this reason. However, this identity-security relationship is deeply flawed on many levels. Momentarily leaving aside the misguided state-centricism of neorealism, the idea that interests are objective is also false.

One actor may obviously prioritise certain issues above another on the basis of their identity. For example, France appears to be significantly more interested in regime change in Libya than the Maldives is, which contrastingly prioritises reversing the effects of climate change.

Their interests, and by extension agendas and actions, are entirely different. The increasingly popular field of social constructivism attempts to answer this question.

Identity does not exist objectively; rather, it is intersubjectively constructed, as are all other social facts. These identities are complex, and can be constructed over significant periods of time. However, this is a fundamental misreading of social constructivism. Buzan has developed a five-dimensional approach to societal security [12] , and threats to identity can come from each of these spheres.

They include military identity threats e. Hutu extermination of Tutsis in Rwanda in ; political e. He also looks at horizontal competition, where influence from a neighbouring identity threatens another identity, and vertical competition, where institutions like the EU, which widen and homogenise identity. Identity and security are inseparable here — neorealism fails to take into account the role of identity in creating interests and, by extension, securitising actions.

Military responses are self-explanatory, and involve a society defending its threatened identity through the use of force. Hamas and their military wing the Al-Qassam Brigades use such military methods to defend Palestinian identity [15]. However, military responses are often impossible for some identity groups, due to insufficient resources to mount a successful military challenge, or perhaps because the threat to the identity is non-military.

Identity and security are thus mutually reinforcing. Another significant branch of non-military response to securitised identity threats involve ethno-political nationalism. This involves a society, usually within a pre-existing state, although possibly transcending state borders, whose identity is felt to be threatened to the point that secession must be attained for survival. Somaliland, a now semi-autonomous region of Somalia, provides an example of this.

The former President Siad Barre committed massacres against the Somaliland people in [18] , leading to the securitisation of such a threat by regional leaders, and finally a drive for independence.

Somaliland identity has evolved from Somali national identity, and while the region lacks official sovereignty recognition, it is de facto autonomous. This indicates that identity and security are inseparable; one cannot begin to talk about security without talking about the identity which is being secured, and vice versa.

Lebanon is an example of a state that is engaged in PSC. In , the Maronites felt persecuted to the extent that they attempted to seize power, which led to their massacre by the Muslims. To this day, PSC continues between the religious groups in Lebanon, and the Maronites continue to feel that their identity is threatened by Muslims.

Security is thus needed to defend identity — the two concepts are deeply intertwined, and Maronite security cannot be explained without taking into account the subjective role of Maronite identity. To conclude, security and identity are not only related, but mutually reinforce each other to a significant extent. Without security, identity cannot exist, and vice versa. Identity groups securitise threats to their survival, and respond as best they can to nullify that security threat, whether by military, cultural or political means.

Neorealism is fatally flawed in its refusal to accept the role of intersubjectively constructed identities as the precursor to interests, and in its narrow focus upon states. While identities are intersubjectively constructed and can emerge or disappear over time, they remain relatively fixed entities, and are thus an essential referent object for security.

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Copenhagen School (international relations)


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