Case Study

Explaining the emergence of Security Studies as a discipline

Strategic Studies: During the Cold War the main challenge facing the West was how to confront the perceived threat from the Soviet Union. Strategists conceptualised security in excessively narrow military terms and this was largely due to the arms race with the Soviet Union and the pressures exerted by the development of nuclear weapons and the rapid improvement in military technology.

International Security Studies: By the 1980s an increasing number of academics and politicians held the belief that war was disappearing as an option amongst a large number of states – particularly those of Western Europe, North America and Japan. When the Cold War came to an end in 1989, it was assumed that the Soviet Union could also now be included in this ‘no war’ camp. Given that war was now unlikely amongst these states, realist assumptions about military security appeared increasingly archaic. A large number of academics began to call for the concept of security to be broadened beyond the narrow confines of the realist tradition and so by the end of the 1980s, elements of a broader discipline – Security Studies – began to emerge.