Centre for the study of Global Security and Development

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The Causes of Insecurity

The question of security is one that needs to be studied from the bottom up. We must resist labeling as appropriate for security policy interventions the sorts of insecurities that might be better addressed through economic and social policies designed to support individual livelihoods and capacities and the cohesion of communities. This involves engaging with such issues as the nature and direction of capital and labour flows between places, the livelihood strategies that people may adopt to cope with existing inequalities, the impact on life chances of processes of migration and forced displacement, as well as considering how different social and political movements interact with questions around security and development.

It is also important to consider the ways in which current manifestations of globalisation may reinforce or exacerbate already existing forms of insecurity, be those related to peoples health, income, gender, class, race and so on. Malnutrition exacerbates the risks of peoples’ exposure to pathogens, for example. But how do these inequalities intersect? The New Economics Foundation talks of the ‘triple crunch’ of environmental, credit and sustainability crises. These are all elements of current governmental and non-governmental security discourse but considering them as interlinked problems ought to be a central means of understanding the root causes of insecurity also.

Work in this stream will include developing understandings of how people attempt to secure their social reproduction and their livelihoods in the face of dramatic socio-economic restructuring, from the global financial crisis to the collapse of societies and political-economic systems. The focus of this activity is very much on the scope for and limits to the development of a range of security mechanisms that enable human development in particular places. Migration has become an important focus of security intervention in recent years, for example, with the emphasis placed on the security risks posed by migrants leading to a militarisation of migration control and border security. Yet migration is primarily a cause of insecurity for migrants themselves, who are often disadvantaged in many respects, even when migrating voluntarily to find work (see, for example, the UNDP Human Development Report, 2009).

Staff in this area

Fleming, Harney, Lee, Kiely, McIlwaine, Mitsilegas, Reid-Henry, Saull, Smith, Sokol

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