Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SIT-SG Report Summary

Project ID: 269441
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: United Kingdom

Final Report Summary - SIT-SG (Security in transition: An Interdisciplinary Investigation into the Security gap)

Our programme Security in Transition: A Multi-disciplinary Investigation into the Security Gap starts from the assumption that the world is in a moment of transition and that is expressed by the security gap – the gap or contradiction between the actual experience of security in places like Syria or Afghanistan, and our security capabilities largely designed during the Cold War period. The big idea emerging from the programme has been the concept of security culture as an analytical tool to make sense of different ways of doing or performing security, to explain the persistence of the security gap and to identify pathways for alternative approaches. Our starting point is that the security culture of the Cold War period has become increasingly anachronistic yet the traditional geo-political approach remains dominant in national defence or security reviews and in the structure of the security forces. The programme traces the emergence of new competing security cultures that are jostling for position; these include ‘new wars’, the War on Terror, and what we call the Liberal Peace. Our argument is that the outcome of this transition period, the ongoing jostling for position, will profoundly affect the safety of individual human beings as well as the trajectory of society more broadly.
Our major conceptual breakthrough was that the term security is profoundly ambiguous. On the one hand, the term security is equated with safety. On the other hand, the term conjures up the security apparatuses of the state and is deeply intertwined with our understandings of power, legitimacy and authority. The term security gap arises from this ambiguity. Different security cultures involve different combinations of objectives (the safety of whom from what) and different practices (different narratives, rules, tools and tactics) and are associated with different forms of political authority. The research programme investigated the nature of the security gap in relation to different security cultures and through the prism of different methodologies. These include the use of quantitative indicators, novel methods such as crowd-seeding, extensive field research, as well as more conventional desk-based research methods. The research focussed on three geographical areas: the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Syria. Our work on Syria was particularly important because it is there that the security gap is at its most stark.
The findings of the programme were used to prepare a report on the European Union’s approach to conflict as an input into the review of global strategy undertaken by High Representative Federica Mogherini. Many of our proposals were included in the conflict section of the final document; the report and its background papers will be published by Routledge as a book.
Highlights of the research programme include:
- A major book by Professors Mary Kaldor and Christine Chinkin, to be published by Cambridge University Press in early 2017, examining the different legal regimes associated with different security cultures, defined for the purpose of the book as models.
- A book by Mary Kaldor on Global Security Culture to be published by Polity Press.
- Several edited books, including one edited by Mary Kaldor and Saskia Sassen about cities and war and the way cities resist persistent violence, which includes a series of case studies based on fieldwork, and one by Mary Kaldor and Paul Nightingale on technology and security cultures currently under review by Manchester University Press, that includes case studies of IEDs and Drones (the paradigmatic tools of new wars and the War on Terror respectively) as well as social media and chemical and biological weapons.
- Three special issues of journals; one on persistent conflict in Conflict, Security & Development; one on the security gap in Stability Journal; and one on ‘Law, Justice and Security Cultures’ in the Journal of Conflict & Security Law.
- The establishment of a data base covering both war and peace events in Syria, and two major papers on local cease-fires and on the war economy in Syria which have influenced policy both in the UK and in the UN.
- A reflective approach to ethics and methodology including two seminar series with the Philosophy and International Development Departments at LSE and a final workshop on the ethics and methodology of working in difficult places. A working paper on the first series and a summary of the final workshop are available on the website.
- Engagement and dialogue with civil society has been conceptualised as a social science methodology. To this end a series of civil society forums and dialogues have been held in the Middle East and in other regions.
- Supplementary funding was raised from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Department for International Development, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories and the MacArthur Foundation.
- The establishment of our website with updates and commentaries


Dorota Rejman, (Senior Research Awards Manager)
Tel.: +44 20 7852 3604
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