International Relations

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
Andrew Whiting

Chapter 2 provides the theoretical framework for the book’s empirical analysis and clarifies a number of theoretical and conceptual tools that are central to this book’s objectives and contributions. Power and security are two such concepts, and the chapter begins by clarifying the conceptualisation of power outlined by Michel Foucault that is adopted in this study by elaborating upon one of his ideas: power/knowledge. From here the chapter hones in on the ‘third modality’ of power, that of governmentality, to demonstrate how this functions across society and the role that the security dispositif plays in allowing this form of power to function. Prior to embarking on the empirical analysis, this chapter’s final section ties together the work on power, governance and security with established work on both ‘epistemic communities’ and ‘security professionals’. I elaborate on these theorisations to link the productive functioning of power with the role particular ‘privileged’ experts play within the dispositif to give meaning to the phenomenon of security, sediment certain understandings, prioritise particular responses and foreclose alternative thinking. It is in this final section where I most explicitly make the argument for the need to conduct constructivist research into private security industry discourse.

in Constructing cybersecurity
Bert Ingelaere

The gacaca process was introduced in Rwandan society to deal with the legacy of the 1994 genocide against Tutsi. Empirically informed research points to the ambiguous and ambivalent attitudes of participants regarding testimonial activities, namely the search for the truth. Hence the questions: what does the gacaca experience reveal about this elusive and multidimensional notion called ‘the truth’? And, what does ‘the truth’ as experienced by Rwandans reveal about the nature of the gacaca process? This article aims to answer these questions by identifying and qualifying the different styles of truth at work in the gacaca process, namely the forensic truth, the moral truth, the effectual truth and, the Truth-with-a-Capital-T. The first is a consequence of the design of the court system, the second is derived from the socio-cultural context, the third is a consequence of the decentralised milieu in which the gacaca courts were inserted, the fourth is the result of the overall political context in which the gacaca activities took place. This process of assembling these different styles of truths is conceptualised through the notion of agencement that captures the intricate interplay of agency and structure, contingency and structuration, change and organisation shaping the gacaca process.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka, Kevin O'Sullivan, and Bertrand Taithe

This roundtable took place on 16 January 2020, at the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war in Biafra. It brought together Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps, Lasse Heerten, Arua Oko Omaka and Kevin O’Sullivan. The roundtable was organised and chaired by Bertrand Taithe, University of Manchester.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs