Sicherheitskultur im Wandel

The Transformation of Security Culture

Western societies are currently experiencing a proliferation of security demands. Security from war and violence. Security from terrorism and crime. Security from environmental catastrophes and financial crises. Security has become a central value in our societies. Yet, the ongoing expansion of security needs poses an enormous challenge to political decision making - from responding to threats to managing risks. There is a sharp contrast between societal expectations for security and the ability of national and international institutions to meet them. At the same time, decisions in security policy often raise heavy criticism and even public resistance. The meaning of security has become a deeply contested issue. In order to sharpen our understanding of the potential and the limits of security policy and in order to advance ongoing debates on actual security problems, we need to look closer at the transformation of security culture.

Security culture encompasses those ideas, norms and practices of individuals and organizations that define phenomena as threats and prescribe countermeasures. Threats to security do not simply exist 'out there' but are constructed by actors such as policy makers, experts and civil society groups. However, perceptions of insecurity respond to both real world perils (e.g. international terrorism, pandemics, humanitarian crises) and political constraints (e.g. scarce resources, opportunity structures, established values). Security culture is thus generated and constantly transformed through the interdependence of politics, society, and their environment.

This research project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for a period of three years (2010-2013) and is based at the Chair of International Organisation located at the Goethe University Frankfurt.




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