Handbook of Critical International Relations
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Handbook of Critical International Relations

Edited by Steven C. Roach

Comprising a plurality of perspectives, this timely Handbook is an essential resource for understanding past and current challenges to democracy, justice, social and gender equality, identity and freedom. It shows how critical international relations (IR) theory functions as a broad-based and diverse critique of society.
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Chapter 13: Emancipation in critical security studies: political economy, domination and the everyday

João Nunes


This chapter discusses an emancipation-inspired approach within critical security studies. This approach has drawn from the Marxist and Frankfurt School traditions to advance a critique of security with explicit emancipatory intentions. It begins by introducing the idea of ‘security as emancipation’ (SAE) and its take on the critique of security, showing how this approach conceives insecurity as the presence of constraints upon life and freedom. It then seeks to develop SAE in three ways. First, the chapter unpacks one of the key assumptions of SAE, the materiality of security, and connects this with political economy and class as important elements in security analysis. Second, the chapter makes the case for a shift towards the everyday political economy of security, with the goal of equipping SAE to better engage with the concrete production of insecurity in day-to-day practice and interactions. Finally, the chapter reconsiders the way in which SAE deals with the question of power, arguing for the need to understand power as domination, or the systematic reproduction of subordination.

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