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‘Securitization’ revisited: theory and cases

Balzacq, Thierry; Leonard, Sarah; Ruzicka, Jan


Thierry Balzacq

Sarah Leonard
Professor of International Security

Jan Ruzicka


© 2015, © The Author(s) 2015. Securitization theory seeks to explain the politics through which (1) the security character of public problems is established, (2) the social commitments resulting from the collective acceptance that a phenomenon is a threat are fixed and (3) the possibility of a particular policy is created. In the last decade, research on securitization has grown significantly. The aim of this article is to evaluate the achievements of securitization theory. First, its main concepts and premises are critically discussed. This article then proceeds to examine the empirical applications of securitization theory to a broad range of issues, as well as the theoretical implications of these studies. Finally, it discusses the main challenges faced by securitization scholars and puts forward strategies to overcome them. This article develops three inter-related arguments. First, notably thanks to empirical studies, securitization theory has significantly developed beyond its initial focus on the speech act. Second, as a result, the distinctiveness of securitization theory currently lies in its capacity to articulate a specific approach to security – influenced by the speech act – with an ‘analytics of government’, which emphasizes practices and processes. Third, securitization theory faces three types of challenges, related, respectively, to theory, method and methodology. The capacity of scholars to overcome those will strongly influence the extent to which securitization theory will be able to make significant contributions to the debates in Security Studies and International Relations in the years to come.


Balzacq, T., Leonard, S., & Ruzicka, J. (2016). ‘Securitization’ revisited: theory and cases. International Relations, 30(4), 494-531.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Aug 1, 2015
Online Publication Date Aug 5, 2015
Publication Date Dec 1, 2016
Deposit Date May 2, 2019
Journal International Relations
Print ISSN 0047-1178
Electronic ISSN 1741-2862
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 30
Issue 4
Pages 494-531
Keywords case studies, evolution, methods, securitization, theory, analytics of government
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : © 2019. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications


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