Motives behind securitization -a study on the securitization of terrorism

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Motives behind securitization

-a study on the securitization of terrorism

Master Thesis

Author: Anders Vallin Supervisor: Anders Persson Examiner: Henrik Enroth Term: HT19

Subject: International Affairs Level: Advanced




Since securitization processes are agued to be able to create excessive power to actors, there are arguments that claim that securitization is a negative process. By combining aspects of the original securitization theory with Juha Vuoir’s theory of illocutionary force, this thesis makes an attempt at

finding what different actors claimed was threatened in their respective securitization of the issue terrorism. The motive behind the actors are also investigated and argued to be made visible through the different speech acts each actor employs when trying to securitize an issue. The thesis concludes that all three securitizing actors use some traditional notions of what is being threatened, namely the state. However, they are all found to use less traditional referent objects in addition to the state. The

thesis also concludes that the motives of the different actors are found. These are showcased through the president of the USA trying to create deterrence for attackers of his state and trying to

create control on the international arena. The High Representative of the EU, trying to legitimize future acts of more integration in the Union. Finally the World Health Organization’s motive is

argued to have been to put the issue on the agenda.

Key words



Table of contents

1Introduction 5

1.1Research aim & research questions 7

2Previous research 7

2.1Security 7

2.2Securitization 8

2.3Speech acts and different securitization motives 11

3Theory 12

3.1Securitization theory 12

3.2Securitization process or Securitization move 14

3.3Referent object 15

3.4Speech acts 16

3.5Motives for securitization 17

3.5.1Agenda setting 20

3.5.2Legitimizing future acts 21



1 Introduction

Der Derian1 claimed that “no other concept in International Relations packs the metaphysical punch, nor commands the disciplinary power of security”. Security studies have been an essential part for the study of international relations and its political significance since the 1950s has been immense. It also had a part in shaping the way in which the two superpowers contested during the Cold War. Even in the post-Cold War era, security was still a central part in debates over government policy agendas and which priorities these should reflect.2 In 1991 the concept of security became seriously contested as it was considered unsatisfactory and disregarded crucial aspects of the emerging international policy agenda3. This created both the opportunity, and the need for new theories surrounding security to emerge.4 One such theory was conceived from the ideas of the Copenhagen school of security. The theory called securitization asked how security was constructed and how this construction functions in international politics.5 A defining feature of securitization theory is its suggestion that to study security practises the analysist can draw upon speech act philosophy, language and social structures.6 The creators of securitization theory, Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde7, suggested that implying something is a security issue can create justification for extraordinary measures to be taken that are normally not legitimate when dealing with that specific issue.8

They also found that the state often became more involved on securitized issues and therefore expressed a negative view of securitization as they believed that national security was not to be idealized. They believed national security had the ability to silence opposition as well as giving actors in positions of power opportunities to exploit perceived threats for domestic reasons. They argued that less constraints on these actors is a common trademark of dealing with security issues. Therefore, Buzan et al advocate for a view of security as a failure to deal with certain issues through normal politics as opposed to the more high politics notion of security.9 Securitization has however also been described as a positive and a useful process

1 Der Derian 1995 p.24-25 2 Sheehan 2005 p. 1 3 Sheehan 2005 p. 2 4 McDonald 2013 p. 72

5 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 2-5 6 Stritzel 2007 p. 360



in order to put threatening issues into a framework that helps society deal with them. These issues can often be dealt with by greater urgency than if not securitized.10

According to Karns, Mingst and Stiles11 governments and international organizations proclaim issues as security threats in order to gain more political control over the specific issue. Although it is clear that some issues have a security dimension this may not always be the case.12 One of the purposes behind the creation of securitization theory was to cultivate a deep ethical sensibility about speaking security. By this the creators wanted to encourage reflecting more deeply if using security language is the most appropriate way of addressing a certain issue13.

Michael Sheehan has claimed that even the invocation of the word security has the ability to bring about exceptional measures and can focus political attention towards specific issues.14 Jef Hysmans argued that since security language has such a capacity to prioritize specific questions or issues and create mobilization there may be tactical advantages to employ security language in order to gain greater visibility to the issue one desires to showcase.15 Finding issues that have been securitized is possible by applying securitization theory. What can also be studied is who has constructed the issue. What it has more difficulty uncovering is the motive behind the securitization.

Since securitization has been claimed to give certain actors more control and ability to act in commonly illegitimate ways it is quite remarkable that there have been few if any attempts to develop securitization theory in order to unearth the securitizing actor’s motive. Someone who has tried to explicate the theory in an attempt to study securitization processes as complex chains of speech acts is Juha Vuori.16 In his study Vuori argues that it is possible to explain securitization processes through illocutionary logic, what an actor intended when making a statement. If it is possible to find the illocutionary logic, it should be feasible to uncover the motive behind the securitization.

In an attempt at developing the securitization field further and uncover different motives, this thesis will combine some of the aspects of the original theory of securitization with the

10 Sheehan 2005 p. 95

11 Karns, Mingst & Stiles 2015 p. 66 12 Karns, Mingst & Stiles 2015 p. 66 13 Elbe 2006 p. 138



illocutionary logic feature of Vuori’s theory. This could give a comprehensive idea of what was claimed to be threatened while also making the motive visible. In order to be able to find more than one motive, three cases will be analyzed. The issue that will be investigated as being securitized is terrorism as it has a small chance of actually occurring but may have big impact when it does. The statements that are analyzed will therefore all have a connection to the terrorist attacks that occurred in the USA in 2001. In a further attempt at extend the study, the analysis will focus on one country, (United States of America, USA), a regional organization (European Union, EU) and an international organization (World Health Organization, WHO). As discussed, nations and organizations are all affected by the notion of security and having different actors should generate more fruitful results.

1.1 Research aim & research questions

By using aspects of the original securitization theory and also adding Juha Vuori’s theory of illocutionary logic this thesis aims at finding the objects that are claimed as being threatened and the motives behind the securitization by investigating three cases.

In order to accomplish the research aim the following questions will be answered. - What was claimed to be threatened?

- What motives did the actor have when securitizing the issue?

2 Previous research

2.1 Security

Wolfers argues that in an objective sense, security is a form of measurement through which it is possible to gage the absence of threats to specific cherished values. A more subjective description is the absence of fear that cherished values will be attacked. 17 Others like Luciani has claimed security is the nation’s ability to withstand aggression from outside.18 While this

focuses security as an issue for the state, Hough has argued that any issue that makes a human, government or minister feel threatened and that entity responds through politics, the issue should be seen as a security issue.19 The original theory of securitization encompasses both the notion of state security but also more non-traditional security concerns as it allows for the inclusion of non-military matters. 20 Buzan et al understands security in traditional military



terms. They argue that security is about survival and can be showcased when an issue is being portrayed as an existential threat towards something (referent object).21

This thesis will understand security from the definition of Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde since the base of the theoretical framework will rest upon this assumption. This definition of security is quite broad as there are almost no limits to what can be seen as a security threat. The creators of securitization theory do however argue that there are socially defined limits as to what can be securitized as security is not totally subjective in practice even if these limits are subject to change.22 This can be seen by the fact that securitization have the ability to fail i.e. an issue not being accepted as a security issue.

2.2 Securitization

The field of security studies is a sub discipline of international relations which was born from the desire to avoid another World War. This aspiration led to the creation of international relations in 1919 at Aberystwyth, United Kingdom.23 The dominant explanatory tool for understanding actor’s behaviour in the international arena has been survival. Security has been a matter of high politics and central in governmental decisions of priority.24 The dominant theory of international relations is widely accepted to be realism and although it has a long historical lineage with roots all the way back to Thucydides25, it has not lost its relevance.26 However, in the 1990s security became a contested concept and the realist hegemony over the field of security studies came to be challenged. The debates during the 80s and 90s started to open the concept of security which started to widen and deepen. One of the leading forces behind this was Barry Buzan and the Copenhagen school.27

Securitization theory was development by Ole Waever28 Barry Buzan and Jaap de Wilde29. The Copenhagen school, as it became known, tried to understand how consequential political actors viewed and interpreted issues and in so doing constructed different issues into security threats. The idea behind securitization theory was an effort to contain the analytical concept of security but as a side effect it helped broaden the security issue sphere.30 The more

21 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p.21 22 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 39 23 Sheehan 2005 p.1

24 Collins 2019 p.1

25 Greek historian, Glaser 2019 p.14 26 Glaser 2019 p.14



traditional realist concept of security struggled with explaining the more multidimensional and multi-faceted aspects of problems facing the members of the international system. As a result, international relations theorists saw broadening of the concept as necessary. However, there has been debates on whether broadening the concept of security to much render the definition so elastic that everything can be a security issue31. According to Stephan Walt, this could have the consequence of disrupting or even destroying the fields ‘intellectual coherence’.32 Nevertheless, a wider definition gave researchers the ability to view new issues through a security perspective in order to gain insights and understandings.33

After the original theory was published both criticism and development started focusing on a number of different issues.34 Matt McDonald argued that the securitization theory, although innovative and important was problematically narrow. He argued that this narrow view took form in three senses, first the narrow definition of the act, second the context and thirdly he saw the framework as being too narrow.35 Another critique of the context came from Balzacq who argued for the importance of the context for a successful securitization, while the original theory argues that the context changes when a successful securitization occurs.36 Felix Cituǎ also focused his critique on the importance of context as he saw security can change meaning depending on the context.37 Lene Hansson argued that the lack of gender in securitization was noteworthy as ‘those associated with critical security studies have favored making gender an indispensable part of security analysis’. 38 McSweeney raised concern on

the role of identity in securitization theory.39

Another concern of securitization was made by Paul Roe who argued that not enough attention had been spent on the role of the audience and the relationship of actors inside the securitization process. Mainly this was focusing on the audience as either being the general public or more governmental audiences.40 Rita Floyd has attempted to complement aspects of securitization theory with just war theory in order to showcase if a securitization process has been morally justifiable. She created three different criteria which, if fulfilled would

31 Ayoob 1997 p. 121 32 Walt 1991 p. 213



make a securitization process morally justifiable. This model is however significantly removed from the original securitization theory and leans more on just war theory.41

The original theory of securitization is interested in studying who can ”speak” or ”do” security in a successful manner. It is however also possible to find out which issues have been securitized and under what conditions as well as the effects the securitization had42. This showcases the considerable potential of securitization theory and as previously reviewed the theory has been reworked and built upon to include an even wider area of analysis than the original theory. Even though there might be some merit to the criticism raised towards securitization theory, most of it has focused on aspects for creating a successful securitization process. This is something that this thesis is not interested in investigating. The focus is instead on who or what has been named the referent object and why the actor did it. The original securitization theory is ample and sufficient enough to help in the first two endeavours and therefore its assumptions on who and what are accepted.

From all the critique and reconceptualization there have been many studies produced relying on securitization theory. One such study is by Biba, Stavrianakis and Salter who focused on failed securitization processes. However, the failed state of the securitization still managed to reestablish the issue in the political agenda and in some environmental cases it helped solve the issue. This showcased that failed securitization could be helpful in certain issues as it raised awareness to the specific issue while still not elevating it to security standards.43

Melissa G. Curley and Jonathan Herington has studied the securitization of global health and in particular infectious diseases. What they found was that securitization of this issue rested on an assumption that states have both the motivation and capacity to enact policy changes. Their study did however show that state desire and capacity to securitize these issues are complex and should not be assumed.44

Securitization has also been used in quantitative research exemplified in Jonathan Fox and Yasemin Akbaba’s45 study which investigated if Muslims experienced a higher level of

discrimination compared to other religious minorities in Western democracies. This was

41 Floyd 2011 p. 427-428 42 Buzan & Wӕver 1998 p .27

43 Biba, Stavrianakis & Salter 2016 p. 434–435 44 Curley & Herington 2011 p. 165



something they found to be true and especially since the 2001 terrorist attacks against the USA.

One of the more contemporary offerings to securitization comes from Stéphane Baele and Catarina Thomson who argues for an extension of the methodological diversity in securitization studies. More specifically, they are advocating for the use of experiment as a method which they argue would not only mitigate one of the weaknesses of securitization theory, limited methods, but also help explain when securitization moves are likely to fail or succeed.46

2.3 Speech acts and different securitization motives

One of the features that is defining for securitization is its idea of studying security practises by analysing speech acts in order to uncover claimed threats.47 There are of course contrasting

views and a discussion on the form or portrayal of a threat. One argument is that threats may be portrayed using imagery or other performative acts.48 Another view is that of Claire Wilkinson who found that securitizing actors may use more physical actions such as demonstrations, especially in authoritarian states where freedom of speech is less developed.49 This study will however follow the original theory and focus on speech acts. John Austin50, seen as the creator of speech acts theory, divided speech acts into three different functions. The locutionary, illocutionary (the one focused on in this thesis and explained in greater depth in the theoretical framework) and the perlocutionary. Locutionary acts are seen when an actor performs an utterance and therefore something was expressed and meant. An illocutionary act is when there is force behind the speech act and something is done by the expression of the utterance. The last performance Austin mentioned is the perlocutionary act where the analysis focuses on what happened as a result of the utterance.51 The perspective Austin had on language (Speech acts) has had an enormous impact on a number of different disciplines52, seen by securitization theory, and has also reshaped the view on language and how it operates.53Austin was one of the major forces for the belief that language is action and that the things actors utters do not only have meaning, they also do



things. There is force behind some utterances and the performer is interested in getting a certain action in motion by stating it.54

Juha Vuori is one who argued that securitizations focus on liberal democracies was problematic. He argued that by explicating the concepts of the theory through illocutionary logic it could be used in order to study security politics in non-democratic contexts. This led to the formulation of different strands of securitization. 55 By focusing on illocutionary logic i.e. what an actor has as a motive when making an utterance, it should be fruitful to use this analytical framework of strands of securitization in an attempt to find the motives different actors had in their pursuit in securitizing a certain issue. Language and text systems have been argued to possess two main functions. First, they are able to express views and ideas which means that the author of any text has the ability to express, reflect their idea about the surrounding reality or its own inner experiences. The second function is to socially interact with others. Through language humans are able to give orders, inform others, express an opinion, ask a question or make a joke. This means that language is not only used for reflecting but also for action.56

Therefore, this analytical framework will be tested on three different cases , the previous President of the United States George W. Bush. The previous EU High Representative Javier Solana and finally the World Health Organization.

3 Theory

3.1 Securitization theory

The original aim of securitization theory is exploring when security discourses surrounding an issue become effective enough to achieve the audience’s acceptance of rule breaking, that would in ordinary circumstances be seen as illegitimate57. According to the original securitization theory, the process starts with a securitizing actor claiming that there exists an existential threat towards a referent object. The security actor is portraying this message towards an audience which could grant it special powers in order to deal with the existential threat. If the targeted audience accepts the portrayal and grants special powers to the securitizing actor, a successful securitization has occurred. If the audience does not accept

54 Wood & Kroger 2000 p. 4 55 Vuori 2008



the portrayal, the securitization process fails, and no special powers are granted.58 This gives

securitization a constructivist foundation in that they view threats as being constructed through language. This also entails that the threat itself never has to be an actual threat, just be portrayed and accepted by an audience as being a threat.59 The criterion that Buzan et al uses in order to uncover if an issue is being used in a securitization process is if the issue is being portrayed as an existential threat. Claiming the issue is at the magnitude of threatening something completely mean that all other issues hold little importance if the securitized issue is not dealt with.60 The one using its means of communications to create a discourse surrounding an issue to be about security is termed the securitizing actor. The securitizing actor can be political leaders, governments, bureaucracies or other forms of groups or in some cases specific individuals. In other words, there is a variety of actors that can securitize an issue. This also showcases that it is not always state powers that securitize issues. 61 This is different from more traditional notions of security contexts.62 However, in the field of security some actors do have a position of power in virtue of being commonly acknowledged voices of security. That power is nevertheless not absolute, and no one is excluded from interpreting or attempting to create security nor are actors guaranteed the right to be listened to always. No one can therefore exclusively hold the power of securitization.63

However, the more privileged actors are more likely in succeeding in constructing security issues. This suggests that an analysis focusing on traditional security actors may yield more fruitful results, as such actors are more likely to be in such privileged position. It is however the securitizing actor who chooses how to refer to an issue. The analyst can therefore not influence which actors securitized what issue.64 This leads the definition of a securitization actor to be self-identifying as: any actor which produces a discourse of existential threat towards a referent object. More specifically for this thesis the issue that the actor has to have claimed to be of an existential threat toward something is terrorism. This means that this thesis is trying to uncover the motives behind actors who has portrayed terrorism as an existential threat toward a referent object.

58 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 23-26 59 Buzan & Wӕver 2003 p.71

60 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 24 61 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 31-32 62 Sheehan 2005 p.23


14(1) 3.2 Securitization process or Securitization move

Security analysis has traditionally been interested in successful cases of securitization where the securitization actor is able to persuade the intended audience to believe in the threat portrayed by the actor. 65 However, it is important to remember that securitization is an open social process and always has the ability to fail.66

Another important aspect for a successful securitization and one of the central assumptions of securitization is the importance of audience. If an actor is not able to identify the right audience an attempt at securitizing a specific issue is likely to fail. In order to convince an audience, it is important for the actor to use a language similar to that which the audience is used to and has experience with67. One of the critiques raised against the original theory of securitization is however its lack of focus on the concept of audience. The audience holds an important role in the theory of securitization as no issue has been successfully securitized unless the audience accept it as a threat worthy of extraordinary measures. Therefore, it has been argued that it is important to conceptualize who the audience is and how the acceptance works.68

These are significant aspects of securitization theory however, this thesis is trying to uncover the motives behind the actor’s attempts at securitizing terrorism. Buzan et al argues that a distinction can be made between the successful process of securitization, where an audience accepts the claimed threat and, the attempt of a securitizing actor to create an issue to a security issue. A discourse that is portraying something as an existential threat to a referent object does not intrinsically create securitization. This is a securitization move and the issue can only be claimed to have been securitized if the intended audience accepts it.69 Rita Floyd argues that what should therefore be considered a securitization move is the speech act the securitizing actor makes.70

In order to see the motives behind the securitization, find the referent object it is not necessary to view the whole process of securitization. The information sought, the referent object and the motive are surely found in the securitization move. As such the successfulness of the securitization process is of less interest. It is not a stretch to imply that the securitizing actor

65 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 39 66 Vuori 2008 p. 94

67 Balzacq 2011 p.9



is in charge and directs the motives behind its attempt at securitizing an issue. Because of this, the audience will only be mentioned when important for the purpose of explain the theory or the analysis.

3.3 Referent object

The referent object is something or someone the securitizing actor claims need to survive the threat posed against it.71 Therefore, it is possible to find the referent object the securitizing actor is interested in saving by analyzing the security discourse and through this discourse unearth the object the actor refers to as being threatened. The referent object that most traditionally has been used in securitization is the state. The state falls into the category of the middle scale and has been proven in practice to be the most agreeable target for securitization.72 Securitization approach does however open for a broader spectrum of

referent objects to be considered. Some securitization processes have moved the referent object away from the more traditional.73 Individuals or smaller groups have been claimed as

being referent objects, but focusing on this smaller category might make it hard to get enough of an impact on the audience to ensure the intended motive. Trying to claim the referent object is all humanity or other big objects such as the whole planet might instead prove too big. This can lead to legitimacy problems and has not been able to compete with the more midscale, traditional, referent objects.74

However, the referent object is identified by the securitizing actor and has the possibility of being a multitude of different objects. It is once again clear that more traditional connotations are more prevalent in securitization, though there are plenty of examples of referent objects not being states. When discussing environmental security some securitizing actors might see humanity as the referent object while others might claim rhinos, whales or tigers are the threatened object75. Some have argued that humans are usually the centric referent object while others may be used as indirect referent objects in the goal of securing humans i.e. securing animals in order to ensure food security for humans.76 The referent object is despite of this clearly dependent on what the securitizing actor decides to claim needs protection and to find it the research should view the securitizing actors discourse.

71 Floyd 2011 p.432

72 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 36 73 Watson 2011 p. 11


16(1) 3.4 Speech acts

A defining feature of the Copenhagen schools securitization theory is its suggestion that to study security practises the analysist can draw upon speech act philosophy.77 According to Wӕver, security can be regarded as speech acts and the utterances made by actors are the important part to focus on.78 Securitization theory has therefore focused on investigating the discourse surrounding an issue.79 The main function of a language according to Daniel Vanderveken80 is enabling human speakers to communicate and express their conceptual thoughts with efficiency and accuracy. The illocutionary act, the intention behind making a statement, is performed when a speaker or an actor utters a sentence in a context that is appropriate with its specific intention.81 Any speaker who wants to make meaningful utterances have to relate their propositional content to the world around them with a particular illocutionary force.82 Illocutionary acts usually occur in sentences in certain contexts or under

certain conditions and have a certain intention behind them.83 Some of the verbs that

signifying an illocutionary speech act are ”stating”, “warn”, “request”, “assert”, “welcome”, “approve”. These are just a few and Austin claimed that there would be over a thousand such expression in the English language.84

This indicates that if an actor wants something specific by making an utterance, it would use different illocutionary forces depending on what its motives are. Therefore, illocutionary speech acts have a meaning behind the utterance and the speaker wants to convey a specific force such as, questions, orders, assertion or to declare something. The illocutionary act is therefore part of what the speaker is trying to communicate to the audience.85 An example given by Searle and Vanderveken is the two statements “Leave the room!” and “You will leave the room”. The illocutionary force, the motive, behind the two statements is different as the first one has the illocutionary force of an order and the second that of a prediction. On the other hand, different statements may share the same illocutionary force while the content of the statement is different. An example would be statements with the illocutionary force of

77 Stritzel 2007 p. 360 78 Wӕver 1995 p. 55

79 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 25 80 Vanderveken 2002 p.25



a question. The statements might be different forms of questions i.e. How are you feeling? What is the weather like? but the illocutionary force is that of requesting an answer.86

Dieter Wunderlich87 argued that speech acts can be arranged within certain variable discourse patterns. He argued that a complex speech unit consists of additional speech acts with stages that are performed in sequence. The speech acts within the sequences have the ability to utilize parts of preceding speech acts content. The structure of more complex speech units is dependent on their complex aims and functions. Some of the typical complex speech units are argumentation, narration and description.88 Juha Vuori describes the original theory of securitization as being an example of a complex speech unit. He divides it into three sequential elementary speech acts. Starting with a claim that is followed by a warning and ending with a request for the actor to be able to enact previously illegitimate actions.89

3.5 Motives for securitization

The illocutionary force behind an utterance should differ depending on what the actor wants the audience to do or accept. Different forces behind different securitization moves should therefore showcase the different motives or intentions behind it. According to Vuori, the original theory of securitization only focuses on legitimizing future acts as the actor asks for permission to perform otherwise rule breaking acts. Vuori describes four additional motives or as he calls them, strands of securitization.90

According to Vuori, there are several uses for securitizations depending on which political goal the actor is trying to achieve. Each different strand of securitization, speech act or securitization move are part of a sequence of different elementary speech acts. This thesis will apply three of Vuori’s four suggested strands, raising an issue on the agenda, deterrence and control while also keeping the framework for the original securitization theory

legitimizing future acts.

All of the strands of securitization or the motives behind a securitization move have some aspects in common. They all start with a claim and continue with a warning to finally distinguish themselves with the third speech act which is different in all securitization strands.

86 Searle& Vanderveken 1985 p. 1 87 Wunderlich 1980

88 Wunderlich 1980 p. 293–296 89 Vuori 2008 p. 75



91 This is showcased in table 1. Most if not all tables used in this thesis draw heavy inspiration

from Vuori’s92 study and should therefore be credited to him.

Motives for securitization First speech act Second speech act Third speech act

Agenda setting Claim Warning Suggest

Legitimizing future acts Claim Warning Request

Deterrence Claim Warning Declare

Control Claim Warning Require

Table 1 showcasing the different motives and the speech act chain that will be performed.

According to Vuori’s theory, most of the strands or motives are only successful if certain conditions are in effect. These conditions are called preparatory and are representations of certain situations or state of affairs.93 Since this thesis does not focus on the success of the securitization moves investigated, the preparatory conditions are not the focus. However, they will be used as indicators of the different speech acts studied as it could be argued that the desire of the securitization actor is to succeed in making an issue a security issue.

The first speech act a securitizing actor make, according to the Vuori’s theory is a claim (Table 2). A claim could have anything as its content,94 however in the securitization chain

of complex speech acts the claim should have certain indicators that are commonly used when speaking security. These indicators are what will later guide the analysis in order to find securitization claims. The special content of this speech act consists of a claim which portrays an existential threat towards a referent object. The illocutionary force of a claim is assertive as the securitizing actor is trying to convince to an audience that the claim is truthful. When uttering the claim, the actor therefore also must present reasons for the statement being true. Another indicator is that it should not be clear to both the actor and the audience that the audience knows the truth of the claim. 95

Since the claim is that of a referent object being existentially threatened the actor is trying to convince the audience that the threat if not dealt with would mean the destruction of the referent object, it rhetoric of survival. 96 Therefore it could be assumed that surrounding the claim of the threat would be certain words that would indicate the threats destructive power.

91 Vuori 2008 p. 77 92 Vuori 2008

93 Searle and Vanderveken, 1985: 16–18 94 Searle 1969 p.66

95 Vuori 2008 p. 77



Therefore, certain words will be seen as indicators for the speech act being interpreted as a threat. Destruction, danger, causalities harm, damage, menace, risk, hazard, peril are all words that are regularly used when claims of threats are made.


Types of rule

Content A claim which contains an existential threat towards a referent object

Indicator 1) The actor has proof or alternatively reasons for why the claim is true.

2) It is neither clear to the actor nor audience that the audience is aware of the claim

3) Words associated with danger and destruction Table 2 analytical framework of a claim

The next speech act performed in a securitization speech act chain is a warning (Table 3). The securitization actor informs the audience of what the threat can entail if it is not dealt with. The warning can be either directive or assertive in its illocutionary aim. The actor can for example warn that something is the case or warn that a specific action must be performed or not performed. However, in securitization the warning is consistent of the actor wanting something to be done about a particular issue. The actor asserts through the warning of a specific state of affairs that has to be dealt with through some form of action or inaction. The indicators for warning should include the possibility of the event or state of affairs warned of could occur. 97 The event that is being warned about should also not be in the interest of the audience.98 It should also not be evident that the event will occur in spite of any action or inaction. The warning can follow the claim but in certain instances the claim and the warning are stated in the same content.99


Types of rule

Content A future event or state of affair

Indicator 1) The audience should have reasons to believe that the event has the possibility of occurring and that it is not in their interest. 2)It is unclear to both the actor and the audience that the event will occur in any case

Table 3 analytical framework of a warning

The third speech act performed in the chain is the one that varies depending on what the actor is trying to achieve. The third speech therefore has the aim of getting someone to act but



varies depending on the intention or the motive the actors seeks to achieve. Following is a description of four different motives that uses suggest (agenda setting), request (legitimizing future acts), declare (deterrence) and require (control)100

3.5.1 Agenda setting

Motives for securitization First speech act Second speech act Third speech act

Agenda setting Claim Warning Suggest

One of the motives an actor may have when securitizing an issue is simply to raise that specific issue on the agenda for the appropriate decision makers by suggesting something (table 4).

This motive of securitization is more likely to be successful if the securitizing actor is in a position to raise the particular issue. For example, scholars, journalists or politicians might have an easier time raising an issue than other less influential actors. The motive from the securitizing actor using this strand is to convince decision-makers that the issue at hand is threatening and urgent enough to place it on the agenda and to enact the suggested measures. The illocutionary force, the intention behind the statement of this strand of securitization is to direct.101 In other words, the security actor is trying to make the audience carry out a course of action that is represented in the content the actor is stating. Suggesting something does not have the same force as requesting something, instead it has more to do with the actor trying to advise the audience of what they believe to be the best course of action.102

What differs this securitization from the others is that the suggested actions do not have to be something else than a suggestion to put the issue on the agenda and through that deal with the threat. The analysis made by Vuori exemplifies this by showcasing the quote:

“These students are in rebellion, comrade Xiaoping. They’ve attacked Xinhua Gate. We’ve got to do something right away! (Wang, 2001 [1989]: 155)”103

This securitizing move has both a claim and a warning (in this case they are the same, “the students are in rebellion”) as well as suggesting that the audience does something.104 This

displays what the analysis will try to find in the statements from different actors. If this is



found, then it would suggest that the actor was trying to securitize the issue with the motive of putting the issue on the agenda.


Types of rule

Content A suggestion believed by the actor to be beneficial against the threat

Indicator 1) The actor should be in a position to suggest something to the audience. I.e. experts, politicians etc.

2) The Audience should have a reason to believe that the suggestion would benefit the audience.

Table 4 analytical framework of suggest 3.5.2 Legitimizing future acts

Motives for securitization First speech act Second speech act Third speech act Legitimizing future acts Claim Warning Request

This strand of securitization has the motive of legitimizing future acts that the securitizing actor wants to enact. The actor’s aim is to justify certain actions that would, in normal circumstances, be seen as illegitimate by the targeted audience. The illocutionary aims of the speech acts are directive in nature. The actor is asking the audience to accept the acts requested in order to repel the danger of the claimed threat.105

The last speech act in the chain of legitimizing future acts is request (table 5). Performing a request then means that the securitization actor asks in a formal or polite way for something specific to be done. It might be more likely that securitizing actors would ask formally when requesting the legitimization of future acts. A request is seen as having a directive illocution which has the possibility of being denied.106

The request is an effort to gain acceptance of the future act or acts that the actor see as a prerequisite to deal with an existential threat. The acceptance of such a request is nothing the actor is able to impose on the audience, so the perlocutionary effect of the request is left up to the audience. Therefore, the request has to be argued unlike other scenarios where legitimization would not be necessary.107 Other indicators for this securitization are that the

audience is actually capable of performing the requested acts. It should also not be obvious to both

105 Vuori 2008 p.80

106 Vuori 2008 p.81


22(1) the actor and the audience that the audience would perform the requested actions through the normal course of its actions.108


Types of rule

Content Future act (A) of audience.

Indicator 1) The audience has the capability of doing A and the actor believes the audience is capable of doing A

2)It is not clear to both actor and audience that the audience would do A in the normal course of actions of the audience. Table 5 analytical framework of request

3.5.3 Deterrence

Motives for securitization First speech act Second speech act Third speech act

Deterrence Claim Warning Declare

Deterrence aims at repelling through the innate dissuasion that securitization acts may have. The specific status that security issues holds may have an intimidating effect on the threat and may also yield that no special procedures are necessary. The last speech act in this chain is to declare (table 6). The idea behind this strand of securitization is therefore to deter and intimidate as the declaration works as a warning on future possibilities.109

Vuori argues that any actor wishing to securitize using deterrence would likely be more successful if they are holding an official position or is a position of de facto control of its subordinates. This means that the securitization actor using declarative speech acts is likely a leader of a movement or a state as they are able to invoke such authority into a statement. When securitization using deterrence takes place, the audience on which the actor tries to convey a threat of survival is the actual threat itself. This is most likely another state or protestors threatening the political power inside a state.110

This strand of securitization starts, like all the other with a claim and a warning but what follows is a declaration which is the catalyst for bringing about the state of affairs of the claim. By using a declarative utterance in saying something is a threat, the actor can gain special powers which are intended to work as a deterrent towards the threats which in turn



has been targeted as the threat itself. The goal becomes to repel a threat by the deterring effect of a possible future action.111

The illocutionary objective of this type of securitization is declarative and the goal behind a declaration is to change the world by using the speech act. The actor tries to bring about the state of affairs that are represented by the stated content and are dependent on the successfulness of the declarative speech act112. Therefore, it is important for the actor to be in a position of authority, otherwise the success of the speech act is unlikely113. Arguably only high officials would even attempt such a speech act.


Types of rule

Content Any proposition

Indicator 1) The actor holds a position which gives them the ability and power to declare the proposition

2) Proposition is not in effect at the time of the declaration Table 6 analytical framework of declare

3.5.4 Control

Motives for securitization First speech act Second speech act Third speech act

Control Claim Warning Require

Security in itself is an effective means of gaining control as survival is pivotal and can also justify drastic measures, as well as strict discipline. When control is the aim of the speech act, the idea is to create an effect of obedience. The last speech act in the chain is to require (table 7). The objective is to get the audience to do the requested acts or to forbid the audience from enacting certain actions. The illocutionary force, the motive in this strand is directive, perform or abstain from a certain action in order for the threat to be repelled. The securitizing actor requires that a future action is performed or that something is not enacted in order to deal with the claimed threat. 114 Since this specific strand of securitization is more authoritative than the others, the securitizing actor should be someone who can authorize credible directives and therefore in a more formal position. However, the authority of the

111 Vuori 2008 p. 82

112 Searle and Vanderveken, 1985: 37–8 113 Vuori 2008 p. 81–82



actor could also come from other formals authorities, such as international law or the UN Security Council.115

Control securitization starts as all other strands of securitization described in this thesis with rudimentary speech acts of claiming and warning which constructs an issue as being one of security. Following claiming and warning is the speech act of requiring. Requiring has a more directive nature which does not give the audience the option of refusal. This means that it has a greater level of strength than requests. Still the intended audience should be able to enact the requested action or inaction and it should not be clear that the audience would perform the act if not being requested to do so. Another way in reaching control over others through requesting is to provide reasons as to why the obedience is required. Therefore, such reasons should be provided by the actor wishing to request something of the audience.116


Types of rule

Content Future action of audience

Indicator 1) Audience is capable of doing the action

2) It is not clear to both the actor and the audience that the audience will perform the action in normal courses of actions by their own device.

3) There is a reason for the audience to enact the action Table 7 analytical framework of require

4 Method

4.1 Discourse analysis

Discourse analysis has been described as the study of language and its effects.117 According to Teun A. van Dijk humanity and society is primarily characterized by social interactions in general and more particular discourse or language. It is therefore no surprise that discourse analysis has had such an impact on the social sciences.118

Approaches of discourse analysis believe in the claim of structuralist and poststructuralist that access to reality is through language.119 Our language is inevitably important in our understanding of the world around us. This knowledge is not something we recognize intrinsically as this would mean language would be obsolete. It is through language that we

115 Vuori 2008 p.89 116 Vuori 2008 p.89

117 Johnstone 2002 p.2, Tannen 1989 p.6 118 T. van. Dijk 2007 p. xxxvii



are able to construct the world around us.120 To view language as social means that it no

longer is private property of the individual producing it. It becomes a series of collective codes and principles that individuals can employ in order to make themselves understood.121 Language can be seen as a practical resource that actors can utilize in order to create meaning about the world around them.122 According to Vološinov, language is not a neutral reflection of reality. Language can be used by individuals to portray reality in a way which is functional from concrete motives. Portraying the world in such a way is an active act and a way of taking a stand in making certain statements and not others.123

The field of discourse can however not be defined through one universal form of discourse analysis124. An example of discourse analysis is Laclau and Mouffe125 who sees individuals as products of discourse. Actors would put themselves in a subject position from how they understand themselves and their place in the discourse surrounding them. It therefore gets its identity from the discourse. Contradicting this are those within discourse analysis who views actors as an important part of creating the discourse of which they are a part of. Wetherell and Potter argue that discourse cannot be seen as independent causal actors. Instead they maintain that actors are able to use existing understandings and meanings in a creative way to create new or copy already existing discourses.126 This strand of discourse analysis is the discursive psychology approach. This method stands out from other approaches as it believes that discourse is full of variation and that different spheres of discourses are recognized by competing opinions.127

Michel Foucault is one of the most recognisable names in discourse analysis and his perspective focuses on institutionalised patterns of knowledge. These patterns are manifested through disciplinary structures and are able to operate through their connection of power and knowledge. Discourse can therefore be described as a frame of rules which legitimizes certain knowledge and also showcase who can speak with authority. However, Foucault also believed that discourse was dynamic, and the framework of rules could change. 128 The method used in this thesis will however focus on Norman Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis.

120 Selander & Ödman 2005 p. 12 121 Hansen 2006 p. 19

122 Säljö 1999 p. 76 123Vološinov 1973 p. 73

124 Wood & Kroger 2000 p. 18 Fairclough & Wodak 1997 p.262 125 Laclau & Mouffe 1985 p. 115

126 Wetherell & Potter 1992 p. 90, Wheterell 1998 p.395 127 Edley & Wheterell 2001 p. 443


26(1) Critical discourse analysis

This approach provides methods for empirical studies of the relations between discourse and cultural or social developments in different forms of social domains.129 One important difference between Fairclough, general critical discourse analysis and more poststructuralist discourse theories is that Fairclough views discourse as both constituted and constitutive. Discourse is a form of social practice that can both reproduce as well as change identities, knowledge and social relations which includes power relations. At the same time the discourse can also be changed by other forms of social practices and structures. 130 He stresses the need for systematic analysis of written and spoken language. The approach is a text-oriented form of discourse analysis. The idea is to employ detailed text analysis in order to gain insight into how the discursive process is operating in specific texts.131

A three-step model for analysis

The first step of Fairclough’s three-dimensional model for analyzing the discourse of a material is the discursive practice. This entails viewing the texts’ contextual production as well as its intended consumption. In practice this can be done by tracing the processes the text was put through before it was seen as complete and if any changes occurred during that process. However, this step is not usually followed and even the originator Fairclough usually start with concrete texts. What can be gained by the end of this step is the audience consumption of the texts analyzed. 132 Since this thesis does not aim at analyzing the audience’s response this step will not be thoroughly analyzed. Instead some context of the text production in the form of a small introduction before each case is described.

The next step is focused on the content of the text itself. By thorough analysis of a texts linguistic characteristics using tools, the possibility arises to shed light on how the discourse is activated through the text analyzed. This helps the analysis arrive at an interpretation and provides backing for that particular interpretation.133 The tools that are used in order to interpret the text in this thesis are the different speech acts discussed in the theoretical framework. Different discourses use different forms of modality134 which can be described as the actor’s affiliation with the statement it makes.

129 Whinter Jørgensen & Phillips 2002 p.60 130 Fairclough 1992 p.64



An actor can use different forms of modality in order to commit themselves more or less with their statements. One form of modality is truth which is a firm or even undeniable commitment to the statement the actor has made. Using certain forms of modality can reaffirm and reflect an actor’s authority. 135 In the analytical framework one of the indicators for the claim is to give proof or reasons to why the statement is true. This gives the actor a stronger commitment to the statement made and is made more visible by the analytical tools. The modality of the statements will therefore be accounted for when the material is studied so that only high modality statements are uncovered and analyzed. This is the way in which the claim will be found in the text that should guide the research to the next speech act warning.

When the first two steps are done and the text has been analyzed and the claim have been found it should be studied through the broader social practices in order to find out the motive of the actor. It is in this step that the relationship between the discursive practices, specifically in this thesis the speech act and its order of discourse is explored.136This is where the specific motive will be uncovered as the discourse is analyzed against the different motives described in the theoretical framework.

To summarize the text will be given a short presentation before each case in order to give a context into its production. When the text is analyzed the modality of the different claims will be investigated in order to find any securitization claim as these are argued to have a high modality. When a claim has been found a warning is searched for in the same way as the claim. Following this the content succeeding the claim and warning will be analyzed by thoroughly going through the text with the tools of the analytical framework. This will ensure that speech acts following the claim and warning can be categorized into the motive of the actor. To easier showcase each speech act, parts of the text that have been analysed through the analytical framework will be presented by the use of citations.


Buzan et al argues that as securitization is interested in ”when and how something is established by whom as a security threat” the method of choice is discourse analysis.137 Since

this study is interested in the some of the same aspects, the method of discourse seems like a

135 Whinter Jørgensen & Phillips 2002 p. 83-84 136 Fairclough 1992 p. 237



well-informed choice for this thesis. However, Buzan et al argues that the method is less suited to uncover any underlying motives. Their view of discourse is that it itself is the subject to be studied and that it is not an indicator of something else. 138 They do however find discourse analysis to be useful when wanting to study a phenomenon which can be defined as a discursive move (speech act).139 Since it is possible to uncover the speech acts of an actor through discourse analysis this thesis argues that the theoretical framework helps set back this conception of discourse analysis. It is through the discourse that the different speech acts will be found and by analysing these the actor’s motive should be uncovered.

One reason to use discourse analysis is its innate interest in questions regarding power and is a common starting point for a discursive analysis. There is an understanding of the forcing characteristic of language.140 As securitization in many instances is regarded as actors gaining power this is a good argument to why discourse analysis is an ample method for this thesis. Some of the criticism surrounding discourse analysis is connected to more recent poststructuralist influenced analysis. This debate was sparked by the contemporary concept of alternative facts coined by US president trumps advisor Kellyanne Conway. According to some critics141 the poststructuralist view of epistemology is argued to make it more difficult

to differentiate between facts and lies. Arguing against this critique are proponents of the method who claim that poststructuralism is, in fact, the best tool available in order to interpret and understand questions of differentiating views on an issue. Poststructuralism is therefore argued to be a tool in order to investigate and deal with alternative facts.142

Reliability and Validity

The terms reliability and validity are technical terms and refers to the credibility and the objectivity of research. 143 Reliability can be seen as a criterion with roots from quantitative method that helps research become more predictable. Important to note is that reliability can only be seen in a matter of degree as no study is fool proof.144 In qualitative research

138 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p.176–177 139 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 177 140 Bergström & Boréus 2015 p. 400 141 Uddehammar 2017

142 Bergström & Ekström 2018 p. 292-293 143 Peräkylä 2016 p. 414



reliability can be useful to view the quality of the coding frame and also the adequacy of the analysis.145

Some have argued that the social sciences may hold different goals and therefore should use different methods than natural science. Kirk and Miller argue that despite if different goals is the endpoint the two disciplines strife for the same thing in its research, objectivity. Objectivity can be achieved in two ways, the first being that the research is presented in such a way that it is accessible to others. This is done by presenting, transparently, how all the steps of the study were performed in order for others to retrace the steps and re-enact the study themselves if they so wish. The second way of achieving objectivity is through showcasing the results in a theoretically meaningful form which are measured in a way that can be seen as justifiable though the theories used.146

A reliability issue that can arise is when the observations analysed are taken from different time periods. According to Kirk and Miller this can produce reliability issues as the world is ever changing. Meaning that observations from different timeframes may look similar but may hold unforeseen differences.147 This could be a problem when analysing text from different time periods and should therefore be taken into account as to not deny history and is a reason for the material used in this study.

In order to achieve some form of objectivity it is important that the procedures and measures are reliable. Since the researcher usually have little control of the data analysed, it becomes more important to improve the categories or coding used in order to enhance the reliability.148

In this thesis the categories that are operationalized are: referent object, from securitization theory. From Vuori: Claim, Warning, Request, Suggestion, Declare, Require.


In research, validity is concerned with the interpretation of the observation used in a study. To be able to identify the thing the research is intending to study it is important to understand what qualifies that thing.149 Validity can be defined as ‘the extent in which an instrument is measuring what it is intended to measure’. 150 In other words, the method of measurement is



valid as long as it is able to measure what it is intended to measure.151 However there are no

way to calibrate the instruments as to give a perfect calibration. This means that there is always a degree of doubt. Validity is a problem that has to do with theory. The theory needs to be calibrated down to the definitions that can be applied to the material analysed. 152 Validity is not gained in a discourse analysis by proclaiming it is a reflexion of reality as interpretations are made when the analysist interprets the data. However, this does not mean that discourse analysis is subjective or make the analysis the analysist opinion.153 One of the main critiques against qualitative research still remains the question of validity. 154 When a study is not using counting or measuring the question of validity can instead focus on if the study used to research the subject is actually able to give satisfactory answers to the subject studied.155 When definitions are made they can be anything that the definer chooses them to be. Some have argued that if the definer chooses to define black as white it is up to the reader to adapt.156 On the other side of the fence however are those who argues that it is important to call things by their ‘true’ name and sees it as a form of responsibility to do so.157

The question of interpretation is important, especially for qualitative research and it is understood in this thesis that if the illocutionary force behind the speech acts are interpreted in different ways then that would also alter the results. That is why the theoretical framework relies on previous research both from Juha Vuori158 but also other speech act research such

as John Searle. 159

Alternative methods that could have been used for this thesis could have been different forms of qualitative textual analysis. One such example could have been a critical argumentative analysis where the speech acts could have been seen as arguments in gaining the motive of the actor. These motives could possibly be found through critically evaluating the different arguments the actor employs as a way of claiming a threat. Such a method would however focus more on the force behind the actor’s arguments and could showcase if the claims where existing in the real world or only portrayed by the actor. Another way of answering the

151 Rosing 1996 p. 100 152 Kirk & Miller 1986 p. 21 153 Gee 1999 p. 94

154 Whinter Jørgensen & Phillips 2002 p. 125, 155 Bergström & Boréus 2012 p. 41

156 Kirk & Miller 1986 p.23–24 157 Goldschmidt 1982 p. 642 158 Vuori 2008



research question could be to use a more quantitative method. In this case certain words or phrases could be associated with specific motives in order to search through the material. If more of a certain word or phrase was found to be more frequent this could entail that the actor had that certain motive when trying to securitize the specific issue. However, the question regarding who the referent object might be harder to answer through such a method. The theory would probably also have to change.

4.2 Material

According to Bergström and Ekström, it is an important part of discourse analysis to determine the material that is going to be analysed. Discourses are usually argued delimitations and are not always readily available.160 The texts that should be analysed according to Buzan et al are those that are central to the issue. Their argument is that any arguments proclaiming security threats are too important to be kept secret and they should therefore not be hidden. It is not in the security arguments nature to be shut out from the discourse. This also means that there is little point in reading everything, especially obscure texts surrounding the discourse.161 One way of deciding the material used is if there are strong theoretical assumptions. This means that the material selection is guided through well-founded justification.162 In this thesis there are theoretical assumptions of who can speak security. Even though it is reasoned that anybody has the ability to do so it might prove more fruitful for an analysis to rely on more traditional securitization actors such as the state or actors closely related to the security sphere. Buzan et al also argues that material that is to be analysed should be situated around security issues. 163

Therefore, the material analysed in the first case is the national security strategy of the United

States of America from 2002. More specifically the preamble signed by George W. Bush will

be analysed through the analytical framework. The justification for this is that a discourse of security would most likely be found in a strategy of national security. For the second case the 2003 EU security strategy submitted to the European Council from the High Representative will be used. The same argument goes for this material, since it is so closely related to security it should contain a security discourse well suited for analysis. The Third case, the WHO will use the organization revised Public health response to biological and chemical weapons:

WHO guidance. This publication saw revision in 2004 as a result of the 2001 bioterrorist

160 Bergström & Ekström 2018 p. 288 161 Buzan, Wӕver & de Wilde 1998 p. 177 162 Titsher et al 2000 p.41



attacks in the USA and could contain securitization attempts. All the material analysed are taken from a similar time period and are all effected by the 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA. This gives a cohesive context in which the analysis takes place and could give insights on how the different actors were motivated in the same context given their position. The three actors also have positions close to security as the American president being chief in command, the high representative having to deal with the common foreign security policy and the WHO being one of the few organization that would involve itself with bioterrorist aspects of security. The WHO has also been claimed by previous studies of being a securitizing actor for the issue of infectious disease164. This could mean that the organization is proficient in creating security. Therefore, if the motives are to be uncovered this specific material should prove useful as it is close to the actors themselves.

According to Esaiasson et al there are four rules for assessing the source materials truthfulness which can be applied to all forms of material. The first rule discusses the authenticity of the material. It is important that the material was produced in the context, the time and by the one who is claimed to have produced it. It is imperative that the source material used is in no way altered or fabricated as this material is most likely unusable for an analysis.165 The material analysed in this thesis is taken from different electronic archives. The president’s preamble of the security strategy can be found in the archives of the white house. The proposed security strategy of the High Representative of the EU can be found in the electronic archives of European councils open data. The WHO material is a revised publication from the organization itself and should therefore be a reliable source. This indicates the authenticity of the material used.

The impartiality of the material is also an important aspect to consider. Impartiality is especially important when using second-hand sources, such as authors may alter the original content.166 Since this thesis uses primary sources, they should be seen as more trusted than material from other sources. However, this thesis is not interested in evaluating the impartiality of the actor’s relations to the events they describe. On the contrary this should prove to be useful in order to find the securitization speech acts. A third aspect of material is the timeframe in which it is written versus when the event it describes took place. The further an event is written down or described from when it took place the more mistakes and after



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