Ph.D., Political Science, University of Calgary – November 2015
Fields of Specialization: International Relations, Comparative Politics
Dissertation Title: Social Securitization Theory
How do groups decide what is threatening to their security and how do they select policies to address these threats? Security threats are often used to justify massive spending and to legitimize violent and/or secret policies, including war, increased intelligence spending, the collection and retention of data, and torture.
Because the consequences of acting on a security threat can be enormous, it is vital to understand how security priorities, and policies to address these priorities, are chosen. Doing so will allow both researchers and policymakers to recognize the effects of declaring something a threat, and to formulate strategies that incorporate the implications, and costs, of this label.
My dissertation, Social Securitization Theory, proposes an answer to this question by focusing on the interaction between central policy makers and external domestic actors (called “the audience”). Through a synthesis of observations from 32 empirical studies, along with over 150 other sources, I outline a clear process through which the interaction of these key actors create stable understandings of which issues are labeled as threats and what policies are legitimized to address them. In doing so, I provide policymakers with a new understanding of how external actors can influence key security decision processes.