How far does 'societal security' travel? Securitization in South African immigration policies

Asli Ilgit, Audie Klotz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Responding to political developments in Europe during the 1990s, the Copenhagen School drew on speech act theory to argue that state leaders represent certain issues, including immigration, as existential threats to society. Two decades of friendly amendments and vociferous critiques have raised questions about how well the Copenhagen School's core concept of 'societal security' travels outside Europe. To assess the scope of this 'securitization' framework more systematically, we examine South Africa, a democracy that recently liberalized its immigration policies despite ethno-nationalist and racist traditions. Specifically, we test four claims: (1) that official discourses will target certain foreigners as an existential threat to collective identity; (2) that bureaucracies will consistently institutionalize these discourses; (3) that identity-oriented groups will be crucial to any societal contestation over these discourses; and (4) that successful securitization produces regionalization. These securitization claims hold up well, even though the nature of threats to societal security shift over time. Keeping in mind that no theory is without weaknesses, we recommend wider integration of the societal security concept into comparative studies of immigration policy, especially in democracies outside Europe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-155
Number of pages19
JournalSecurity Dialogue
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

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immigration policy
travel
threat
discourse
democracy
speech act
collective identity
regionalization
political development
bureaucracy
school
amendment
immigration
leader
Group

Keywords

  • immigration
  • national identity
  • securitization
  • societal security
  • South Africa
  • xenophobia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

How far does 'societal security' travel? Securitization in South African immigration policies. / Ilgit, Asli; Klotz, Audie.

In: Security Dialogue, Vol. 45, No. 2, 2014, p. 137-155.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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