Review of International Studies

Research Article

Macrosecuritisation and security constellations: reconsidering scale in securitisation theory

BARRY BUZAN and OLE WÆVER*

Abstract

The Copenhagen school's theory of securitisation has mainly focused on the middle level of world politics in which collective political units, often but not always states, construct relationships of amity or enmity with each other. Its argument has been that this middle level would be the most active both because of the facility with which collective political units can construct each other as threats, and the difficulty of finding audiences for the kinds of securitisations and referent objects that are available at the individual and system levels. This article focuses on the gap between the middle and system levels, and asks whether there is not more of substance there than the existing Copenhagen school analyses suggests. It revisits the under-discussed concept of security constellations in Copenhagen school theory, and adds to it the idea of macrosecuritisations as ways of getting an analytical grip on what happens above the middle level. It then suggests how applying these concepts adds not just a missing sense of scale, but also a useful insight into underlying political logics, to how one understands the patterns of securitisation historical, and contemporary.

Footnotes

* Thanks for the comments on an earlier draft of this paper to: Kirsten Ainley, Roy Allison, Aron Ammon, Andreas Antonides, Jens Bartleson, Chris Brown, Mick Cox, Ulrik Pram Gad, Stefano Guzzini, Birthe Hansen, Lene Hansen, Kim Hutchings, Morten Kelstrup, Andrew Linklater, Noel Parker, Karen Lund Petersen, John Sidel, Karen Smith, Jaap de Wilde, Anders Wivel and several anonymous reviewers.