As the concept of human security has become part of the mainstream discourse of international politics it should be no surprise that both realist and critical approaches to international theory have found the agenda wanting. This article seeks to go beyond both the realist and biopolitical critiques by situating all three – political realism, biopolitics and human security – within the history and theory of the modern rise of the social realm from late eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe. Human security is the further expansion of social forms of governance under capitalism, more specifically a form of socialpolitik than realpolitik or biopolitics. Drawing on the work of historical sociologist Robert Castel and political theorist Hannah Arendt, the article develops an alternative framework with which to question the extent to which ‘life’ has become the subject of global intervention through the human security agenda.
(Online publication September 01 2011)
Patricia Owens is Reader in the Department of International Relations, University of Sussex and Senior Research Associate at the Oxford-Leverhulme Programme on the Changing Character of War. She is author of Between War and Politics: International Relations and the Thought of Hannah Arendt (Oxford, 2007). Previous articles have appeared in European Journal of International Relations, Review of International Studies, International Affairs, International Relations, Millennium, Third World Quarterly, Alternatives, and International Politics.
* An earlier version of this article was presented at the Department of Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. For their very helpful comments, I am especially grateful to Joshua Dienstag, Bille Eltringham, Kirstie McClure, Beltrán Undarraga, and the four anonymous reviewers.