International Relations

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Sarah von Billerbeck

This chapter applies a sociological institutionalist frame to UN peacekeeping and explains the role of norms, rules, and culture in shaping the behaviour of peacekeeping actors. More specifically, sociological institutionalism focuses on actors as social agents whose behaviour is culturally specific and constructed around ideas of appropriateness; we can thus better understand not only why UN peacekeeping takes the form that it does but also how and why it changes over time through an examination of the internal institutional environment of the UN and the self-images and values of UN staff. These dynamics are illustrated empirically with a discussion of local ownership in UN peacekeeping that demonstrates how UN staff engage in inefficient or contradictory behaviours because of their need to perceive that their actions are appropriate and legitimate and to remain aligned with their own institutional standards.

in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory

UN peacekeeping is a core pillar of the multilateral peace and security architecture and a multi-billion-dollar undertaking reshaping lives around the world. In spite of this, the engagement between the literatures on UN peacekeeping and International Relations theory has been a slow development. This has changed in recent years, and there is now a growing interest tin examining UN peacekeeping from various theoretical perspectives to yield insights about how international relations are changing and developing. The volume is the first comprehensive overview of multiple theoretical perspectives on UN peacekeeping. There are two main uses of this volume. First, this volume provides the reader with insights into different theoretical lenses and how they can be applied practically to understanding UN peacekeeping better. Second, through case studies in each chapter, the volume provides practical examples of how International Relations theories – such as realism, liberal institutionalism, rational choice institutionalism, sociological institutionalism, feminist institutionalism, constructivism, critical security studies, practice theory, and complexity theory – can be applied to a specific policy issue. Applying these theories enhances our understanding of why UN peacekeeping, as an international institution, has evolved in a particular direction and functions the way that it does. The insights generated in the volume can also help shed light on other international institutions as well as the broader issue of international co-operation.

Kseniya Oksamytna and John Karlsrud

Although the literature on UN peacekeeping has been growing steadily in the last three decades, the engagement with International Relations theory has been slow. However, in the last few years, the scholarly attention to UN peacekeeping from a range of theoretical starting points has been burgeoning. The chapter first discusses this development, provides a brief overview of the history of peacekeeping, and outlines how peacekeeping is governed. It then summarises the main strands in the literature on peacekeeping and the accompanying methodological development of peacekeeping scholarship. Finally, the chapter provides a brief introduction to each of the chapters of the book.

in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory
Abstract only
Andrew Whiting

In the book’s Conclusion, I summarise the main contributions of my research and reflect on how similarly motivated constructivist research in this domain could provide scope for further development.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 4 continues in the same vein as the previous chapter but shifts the focus to the threats themselves. The chapter considers how danger and destructiveness are constituted as self-evident features of various nefarious acts executed by a diverse range of actors that present salient and credible threats in the present as well as for the future. The analysis contained within this chapter identifies a number of discursive tactics, such as the way in which ‘cyber-threats’ are synonymised with physical threats (bombs, bullets, etc.), as well as the use of military historical analogies. As with the previous chapter, an effort is made not only to capture the sentiment of the dominant position regarding cyber-threats but also those divergent moments and dissident voices that co exist alongside them.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 5 draws together the empirical and theoretical work to reflect on the importance of the internet security industry in the construction of cybersecurity knowledge and the role relationships between private entities and professionals of politics play in the sedimentation of cybersecurity as analogous with national security. I begin by highlighting the broad homogeneity that exists between the expert discourse that I have studied and the ‘dominant threat frame’ identified by others such as Dunn Cavelty (2008) before theorising as to why this is and what impact it has on a broader process of knowledge construction. To achieve this I pay particular attention to the positon and raison d’être of the industry I have studied as well as the formation of communities of mutual recognition that have provided mutual benefit for both the industry and the state. I conclude that the arrival of the ‘technological age’ poses challenges to the traditional Weberian model of security governance. Subsequently, there has been an expansion and reorganisation of the security dispositif to more fully include private expertise as a means of overcoming a sovereignty gap and allowing for the continuation of a strategy of neoliberal governance.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Power, expertise and the security industry
Author: Andrew Whiting

Constructing cybersecurity adopts a constructivist approach to cybersecurity and problematises the state of contemporary knowledge within this field. Setting out by providing a concise overview of such knowledge, this book subsequently adopts Foucauldian positions on power and security to highlight assumptions and limitations found therein. What follows is a detailed analysis of the discourse produced by various internet security companies, demonstrating the important role that these security professionals play constituting and entrenching this knowledge by virtue of their specific epistemic authority. As a relatively new source within a broader security dispositif, these security professionals have created relationships of mutual recognition and benefit with traditional political and security professionals. The book argues that one important product of these relationships is the continued centrality of the state within issues of cybersecurity and the extension of a strategy of neoliberal governance.

Andrew Whiting

Chapter 3 is the first of two chapters that present the empirical findings of the research into the internet security industry. In this chapter, the focus is placed upon ‘cyberspace’, characterised as the milieu within which (in)security plays out. The chapter provides a number of references to the articles, white papers, blogs and reports produced by the various different companies to reveal the themes, tropes and tactics in evidence here. The chapter divides these by the categories of vulnerability and uncertainty. The constructivist analysis that is conducted within the chapter reveals a space constituted as inherently weak and vulnerable to exploitation and attack as well as affording nefarious actors tremendous scope to conduct activities in relative secrecy, which serves to compound this vulnerability with a large degree of uncertainty. While efforts are made in this chapter to identify a dominant discourse, the chapter does also draw attention to dissident and counter-hegemonic expertise that stands at odds with it.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Cohesion, contestation and constructivism
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 1 provides an in-depth overview of cybersecurity knowledge drawn from disciplines including politics and international relations, law and computer science. The first part of this chapter is structured around the organising themes of definition, threat and response and provides an important foundation upon which subsequent theoretical and empirical work is based. This chapter identifies a broad homogeneity across this knowledge and demonstrates how this operates within a wider national security framing that reproduces the features, tropes and tactics found therein. However, the second part of this chapter goes beyond the ‘problem solving’ conventions of cybersecurity knowledge and reveals a smaller body of critical and broadly constructivist research that investigates the same object but in a manner that eschews the commonplace agenda. By highlighting and exploring this research two things are achieved: first, my own study is situated within a wider academic body of work that sets out to investigate cybersecurity by utilising different ontological, epistemological and methodological assumptions; second, by revealing this heterogeneity I project a path forward for my own theoretical and empirical work that recognises the importance of a broader inter subjective process of knowledge construction that requires engagement with alternative sources, such as the internet security industry.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Abstract only
Andrew Whiting

The Introduction provides the broad context for the study as well as laying out the motivations, research aims and research questions. The Introduction provides an initial justification for the decision to focus on this particular aspect of the internet security industry (developed further in Chapter 2) and also offers reflections on the method used, including which companies were studied and how the corpus was compiled. Finally, the chapter concludes with a breakdown of the book’s organisation, including what each chapter is looking to contribute to the overall objective.

in Constructing cybersecurity