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The Handbook of Global Security Policy by Mary Kaldor, Iavor Rangelov

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Chapter 4 Security Policy and (Global) Risk(s)

Sabine Selchow

Introduction

Over the past decades there has been an explosion of scholarly engagements with “risk”. While the issue of “risk” used to be one of particular interest to scholars in management and economics, it has come to be of concern to an increasing number of scholars from across the social and political sciences, such as sociologists and criminologists, and most recently also those interested in the study of security as it is understood in this Handbook. This rise in scholarly interest in “risk” is, of course, not detached from developments in socio-political reality, where the issue of “risk” has come to be important in various policy fields, among them security practices. As David Garland (2003, p. 49) observes, risk “has, out of nowhere, come to stand center stage in contemporary politics and social theory”.

While it is apparent that “risk” matters these days more than ever, it is less obvious what is actually meant by “risk” in the various scholarly instances in which the term is used. Like a chameleon, the term “risk” changes color from context to context and from use to use. “Risk” is taken as a commodity, a capital, a technique of government, as something objective and scientifically knowable, as subjective and socially constructed, as a problem, a threat, a source of insecurity, as a pleasure, a thrill, a source of profit and freedom, a means whereby we colonize and control the future (Garland, 2003). ...

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