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Spaces of desecuritisation: understanding changing audiences within desecuritisation

Author:

Sebastian Enhager

University of St Andrews, GB
About Sebastian

Sebastian Enhager is currently working at the Swedish Defence University, evaluating the Swedish non-permanent membership (2017-2018) in the UN Security Council. He holds a Bachelor’s degree (BSc) in Peace and Conflict Studies from Lund University and a Master’s degree (MLitt) in International Security Studies from the University of St Andrews. Enhager’s research brings critical perspectives to issues of identity and the use of disinformation within the field of security.

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Abstract

Securitisation theory is at the centre of understanding how an issue becomes accepted as a threat. A concept that has received considerably less attention is “desecuritisation”, the withdrawal of securitisation. This article examines the audience in different types of desecuritisation strategies, where a more comprehensive understanding of the audience is lacking. In considering multiple spaces of desecuritisation, this article focuses on the audience’s active role in enabling desecuritisation and, as a result, develops a more comprehensive understanding of the audience. In this way, this article suggests a more thorough theoretical understanding of one of the fundamental puzzles within desecuritisation: how and when desecuritisation occurs. The theoretical development concerning the audience is conducted through engaging with a wide range of theories on spatiality, the everyday and the broader critical field of securitisation theory. Instead of what has previously been the case, where the audience was thought of as a passive, static and binary receiver of a (de)securitisation move, the audience in this article is theorised as changing and dynamic. This view of the audience has implications for securitisation theory in general, and for desecuritisation theory in particular. Envisioning the audience as an active part in shaping the conditions of desecuritisation provides a theoretical understanding of how securitisation’s logic of particularisation, the distinctive separation between threat and referent object, can be loosened and, eventually, abandoned. Ultimately, this article contributes to the literature on desecuritisation by refocusing attention on the audience and theorising it as an important and enabling actor in the interactive game of desecuritisation.

How to Cite: Enhager, S., 2022. Spaces of desecuritisation: understanding changing audiences within desecuritisation. Contemporary Voices: St Andrews Journal of International Relations, 1(1), pp.159–198. DOI: http://doi.org/10.15664/jtr.1553
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Published on 06 Sep 2022.
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