Conflict and In/Security in Global Life

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Document Type

Book Chapter


This chapter introduces students to the sub-field of Security Studies. It starts by outlining the long-standing threat of great power war which tended to dominate the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, war remains a persistent problem, but the new face war is now largely civil or internal conflict, rather than interstate wars fought between rival blocs of great powers. The chapter also highlights other trends in the security arena, such as the proliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, increases in the number of weak states, international terrorists and cyber attacks. The chapter familiarizes students with the efforts to counter such threats, for instance through the promotion of contingency plans to safeguard WMD materials. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the evolution of the concept of security. For example, scholars who argue for a widening of the concept of security have begun to include non-military threats, such as health pandemics, environmental degradation or climate change, which challenge the traditional concept of national security advanced by Neorealist scholars. Still other scholars and policymakers advocate for a human security approach which shifts the emphasis from the security of the state to the physical security of the population.

Original Citation

Popiden, S. (2015). Conflict and In/Security in Global Life. In E. Kavalski (Ed.), Encounters with World Affairs: An Introduction to International Relations (pp. 211-256). Surrey, England and Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing.

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