Ethnic Violence and the Societal Security Dilemma

By Paul Roe | Go to book overview

4

The societal security dilemma

The identity of a people and of a civilization is reflected and concentrated in what has been created in the mind - in what is known as 'culture'. If this identity is threatened with extinction, cultural life grows correspondingly more intense, more important, until cultural life itself becomes the living value around which all people rally. 1

Treating identity concerns 'in their own right' presents a significant challenge to the security dilemma. The concept's predominant state-centrism, its concentration on the defence of sovereignty, or sovereign-like attributes, has, in turn, necessitated a focus on the military sector of security. In this chapter, my argument is that thinking about security dilemmas between societies - rather than between states - induces a concomitant shift away from questions of purely military utility. Societal security dilemmas may also be concerned with matters of territorial integrity and political autonomy, but an emphasis on identity insecurities brings with it some degree of refocusing on 'what' is to be secured, and thus also 'how' to secure this. That is to say, defending societal identity often calls for non-military means.

What does a societal security dilemma look like? How does it operate? What effects may it produce? These are questions for which this chapter endeavours to provide some answers. In Identity, Migration, Barry Buzan notes that 'we might … talk about a societal security dilemma', 2 and that societal security dilemmas 'might explain why some processes of social conflict seem to acquire a dynamic of their own'. 3 Yet, while introducing the notion of a societal security dilemma and, importantly, also indicating the concept's utility in intra-state conflicts, Buzan does not go on to develop his initial premises. Nonetheless, the Copenhagen School itself certainly recognises that further work on the societal security dilemma is necessary: 'If we think of societies as units, do we therefore have to think in terms of societal security dilemma between them … ? Such an idea would require further investigation into the interplay of identities.' 4

Societal security dilemmas might be located on three levels of analysis: between states (inter-state), through states (extra-state), and within states

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Ethnic Violence and the Societal Security Dilemma
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Editor's Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements x
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Security Dilemma 8
  • 2 - The 'Ethnic' Security Dilemma and the Former Yugoslavia 25
  • 3 - Societal Security 41
  • 4 - The Societal Security Dilemma 56
  • 5 - Serbs and Croats 75
  • 6 - Krajina and the Societal Security Dilemma 92
  • 7 - Romanians and Hungarians 111
  • 8 - Transylvania and the Societal Security Dilemma 132
  • Conclusion 153
  • Notes 164
  • Selected Bibliography 191
  • Index 200
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