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Title: What is critical about critical security theory? : an investigation of the New Wars thesis
Author: McCormack, Tara
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 5506
Awarding Body: University of Westminster
Current Institution: University of Westminster
Date of Award: 2007
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The central question that this thesis asks is what is critical about contemporary security theory? This thesis expands upon Beate Jahn's methodological critique of critical international theory (1998) by making a case study of critical security theory as it has been applied to the post-Cold War world. The case study will focus on the New Wars thesis, which is a widely read and accepted aspect of critical security theory. The New Wars thesis focuses on the Yugoslav break-up and wars, which are held to show why the Cold War security framework is no longer relevant and why security policy needs to be re-conceptualised in terms of an emancipatory and cosmopolitan framework. I argue that the supposedly 'new' nature of some post-Cold War conflicts, which theorists working within the New Wars discourse argue that they have identified in the Yugoslav conflicts, seems rather to reflect the way in which the discourse is constructed and the particular focus of the theorists instead of the Yugoslav wars and international policy towards it. Rather than the Yugoslav wars offering us a new paradigm for post-Cold War conflict, it seems to be that the New Wars discourse has focused on specific aspects of the conflict to the exclusion of other aspects which would pose a challenge to the discourse. The initial examination of the New Wars discourse seems to suggest that theorists working with the New Wars discourse are not very critical, rather they seem to be closer to problem-solving theorists. Following from the questions raised by the case study of the New Wars, the final chapter expands the scope of enquiry more generally to critical security theory. I will argue that the way in which major international institutions and powers justify and present security policy seems to be similar rather than distinct from much critical security theory. In this context, the question to be asked would seem to be why is it that the most powerful international institutions and states are taking up an emancipatory and cosmopolitan framework and what the implications are. In conclusion it will be argued that the critical theorists engaged with this thesis are not critical theorists,rather it appears that many contemporary critical security theorists are engaging in a problem-solving exercise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available