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Securitisation, terror, and control: towards a theory of the breaking point


Securitisations permit the breaking of rules: but which rules? This article argues that any given security situation could be handled by a variety of different ‘rule breaking’ procedures, and that securitisations themselves, whilst permitting rule breaking in general, do not necessarily specify in advance which rules in particular have to be broken. This begs the question: how do specific threats result in specific rule breaking measures? This article explores this question through reference to ‘control orders’, an unusual legal procedure developed in the UK during the course of the war on terrorism. Once applied to an individual, a control order gives the government a meticulous control over every aspect of their life, up to and including deciding on which educational qualifications they can take. Despite this control, individuals under the regime remain technically ‘free’: and have frequently used this freedom to abscond from the police who are supposed to be watching them. How did a security policy which controls a suspect's educational future, but not their physical movements, develop? This article aims to answer this question, and in so doing present a reevaluation of the mechanisms through which the effects of securitisation manifest themselves.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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