(In)security studies, reflexive modernization and the risk society

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58 Scopus citations


At the dawn of the twenty-first century, the overwhelming challenge that confronts Western policy-makers is the management of diverse, amorphous and qualitative security risks, rather than the fixed, quantifiable threats of yesteryear. As such, policy-makers have had to move from a reactive to a more proactive mindset, which ultimately challenges established international institutions and norms of action. This change has been seen at both the domestic and international levels and gained prominence with sociologist Ulrich Beck's Risk Society thesis in the early 1990s. The risk paradigm calls into question many commonly used concepts in international relations (IR), such as established forms of cooperation and the utility of force. Because such a burgeoning security studies research agenda, inspired by Beck's writing, has begun to develop, I examine this new literature and the challenges that the Risk Society paradigm poses to IR as an academic study. I also raise the need to reconsider thinking surrounding the use of force, security cooperation and international law in light of the security risks and challenges that confront the West today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-79
Number of pages23
JournalCooperation and Conflict
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • NATO
  • Pre-emption
  • Risk
  • Risk society
  • Security cooperation
  • Ulrich Beck
  • War

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • General Social Sciences


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