Concept group 4: Politicization
second funding stage (2018-2021)
The ambition to bring the political back into security research was an important starting point for the development of the concept of securitization by the Copenhagen School which showed that for the legitimation of political action it is decisive if something is successfully defined as a security problem or not. In context of the Copenhagen School, a securitizing move is an act of politicization insofar as it attempts to make something the subject of collectively binding decision-making (Buzan/ Waever/ De Wilde 1998). In the limelight are the political effects of securitization which may be optionally understood as extreme politicization or depoliticization. In the first case, the dramatization of political crisis has priority, whereas the latter deals with those instances in which, due to successful securitization and the lack auf legitimate alternatives, political problems are longer debated publicly. In particular, sociological interpretations of securitization have added an additional dimension to the concept of depoliticization. According to those, an essential effect of securitization is the translation of allegedly political questions into problems of administration and routine; thus withdrawing them from the scope of public control (c.a.s.e. collective 2006).
Apart from focussing on the political impacts of securitization and desecuritization, the debate about the interconnection between securitization and politicization has been characterized by a very contemporary understanding of politicization. Accordingly, the concept of politicization has gained centre stage in the debates on the normative basis of the securitization theory, since securitization is understood as a process in which democratic practices and public debates are undermined or blocked (Roe 2012; Floyd 2010). It has been emphasized, that securitization facilitates gaining momentum in political processes and thus strengthens political authorities. Others stress the role of security experts not owing accountability to the political system. However, even those conceptions of politicization are grounded in the constitutional reality and the normative self-image of liberal nations.
Against this backdrop, the concept group aims to broaden this contemporary notion of politicization and to add a historicizing perspective on politicization forms and dimensions beyond those of liberal and democratic states. This is concomitant with a shift towards the ambivalence of politicization in the context of securitization, which emerged from the SFB’s internal debates as well as in recent studies. Using the example of respective subprojects (securitization of Romani people in Europe, Securitization in anticolonial conflicts) we can show that a strong politicization aiming at antagonistic identities - such as the relation between majorities and minorities or colonial foreign rule - may itself be perceived as a threat and account for pacifying or violence-escalating policies. Just the same, successful depoliticization as after the signing of peace treaties may function as breeding ground for future securitizing moves (Hansen 2012).
By focussing on the ambivalences of politicization we draw from the SFB’s policy concept meaning on the communicative processes in pursuit of establishing collective liability. From this point of view, politicization becomes as an extension: it encompasses “more”, i.e. more comprehensive, more reliable and more explicit liability. The underlying thesis of this concept group’s work would then be that politicization is always double-edged in the context of securitization. Thus the extension of demands for liability - e.g. as in the context of promises of protection to minorities - may be understood as incorporative and inclusive by those involved or affected. However, in reverse, the extension of those same demands for liability may also lead to a forced participation in securitization processes, e.g. when individual groups (refugees, minorities ot the social excluded) pose a threat or populations are asked to participate in securitization processes (as by means of “alertness”).
By stressing those ambivalences, in contrast to the Copenhagen School, the notion of politicization is separated from normative overtones. Thus, processes of politicization may be discussed in relation to groups involved in securitization processes considering that the audience of collective demands for liability or those groups which articulate collective liability and concomitantly formulate definitions of situation, may historically vary in form and content. Accordingly, the patterns of inclusion and responsibilization vary. In this manner, the concept group wants to contribute a general and historicizing dimension to resolving the ambivalence of the political in dynamics of security.