Exploring Security and Community:
: Inoperativity, Immunity and Political Organisation

  • Jessica Raw

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


This thesis explores those logics that underpin and are legitimated by traditional conceptions of security which remain entrenched within critical work, particularly those relating to social-contractarian, liberal imaginaries of political community. In retaining the idea that politics is an attempt to manage and control the aleatory element of life and death, security scholars and practitioners uphold and perpetuate notions of community as exclusionary operation. In this dissertation, I use the notions of “inoperativity” and “immunity” as forwarded by Jean-Luc Nancy and Roberto Esposito, respectively, in order to challenge dominant liberal conceptions of political community that are at the heart of logics of securitisation. I explore onto-theological underpinnings of both security and community to highlight the typical flawed assumptions of thinking on both. Modern security politics, predicated on the “will to security,” work to reduce community to circumscribed, un-relational immunity whilst attempting to put it to use as an operative tool within a technological, managerial political project. This forecloses the possibility to think relationality and being-with differently and thus impoverishes our thinking on political organisation. Attempts to locate political community above, below or beyond the sovereign state, and burgeoning critiques of the discourses of sovereignty and anarchy within critical international relations must contend with this. Above all, critical security scholars must address ideological bias towards certain forms of community necessarily contained in logics of security, and the possibilities for political organisation that are foreclosed when politics are presented in this way. A radically new philosophical approach to origins and foundations is necessitated to challenge the totalitarian completion of the political which stems from logics of security and securitisation, and the inability to imagine community outside the sovereign state. I explore Louis Althusser’s aleatory materialist philosophy for its potential to offer a way out of this impasse within international relations thought.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorLucy Taylor (Supervisor)

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