Nontraditional Security: Redefining State-centric Outlook

Date01 June 2016
Published date01 June 2016
Subject MatterArticles
Assistant Professor, Political Science, School of Law Christ University, Bangalore.
Associate Professor, Political Science, Gujarat National Law University, Gandhinagar.
Corresponding author:
William Nunes, Associate Professor, Political Science, Gujarat National Law University,
Gandhinagar, Gujrat, India.
Security: Redefining
State-centric Outlook
Ningthoujam Koiremba Singh1
William Nunes2
The end of the Cold War witnessed a paradigm shift not only in the
international setting but also in the field of studies relating to security
issues. During the Cold War international relations, both in terms
of theory and practice, were dominated by the realist paradigm that
emphasized on the notion of preservation of the state from threats
emanating from external sources. Such a conception was myopic and
it narrowed the analysis of international and security issues. During
the past decade, particularly during the post-Cold War era, attempts
were being made to broaden the security agenda in order to include
issues of other sectors, namely, political, economic, societal, and
ecological, besides the military ones. This article is an attempt to
deal with a broader understanding of the term security as drawn
from various theoretical schools not only to lend clarity to the term
but also to enable a researcher to place the concept in a proper
frame of reference, that is, to examine the concept of security
with focus on the changing international security agenda that not
only calls for a rethinking but also a reexamination of the perennial
security issues.
Jadavpur Journal of
International Relations
20(1) 102–124
2016 Jadavpur University
SAGE Publications
DOI: 10.1177/0973598416658805
Singh and Nunes 103
Realism, nontraditional security, Copenhagen School, human security,
critical theory
The study of security, though a contested term, continues to dominate not
only the academic discipline of international relations, but is flashed
across the media and is discussed and debated by political pundits,
analysts, news channels, etc. Security is neither a neutral nor a simple
term as its conceptualization is the product of different understandings of
‘what ought to be’ and ‘what is’ politics. Thus, it depends on perception
of the state and also on different outlooks espoused by different schools
of thought or varied political strands.
Security, as defined by scholars and academicians especially from a
non-international relations perspective, has always made reference to the
psychological state of freedom from anxieties and worries. However,
when seen from the perspective of international relations security has
been defined as freedom from threats and vulnerabilities, real or perceived,
emanating from the international system which is anarchic. Thus, the
term tends to be very dynamic and complex further problematizing
the analysis of security issues (Berghahn 1982; Bhagat 1976). Thus, all
scholarly efforts to put forth any universalized typology of the funda-
mental factors and forces that constitute the problems of security was
thwarted by not only the competing and conflicting theoretical paradigms
but also by the fact that states have different social histories, varying
levels of social development and also different patterns of social and
political structures that are reflected in the character of their civil societies
(Bhagat 1983: 465–487). Therefore, a proper analysis of the term requires
an understanding of the term in the context in which it is located and
Security can be understood as an extrinsic value. It is perceived as a
condition where an individual or a collective entity is free to a greater
or lesser extent from life-determining constraints. Security needs to
be understood as a condition that allows different life possibilities to be
explored. It is not synonymous with survival which is merely an animal
instinct; one may survive without being secure (refugees in war-torn
parts of the world).Thus, it is also the possibility of being human or
oneself in terms of freedom and well-being (Nye 1988). Most of the

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