Societal security in Europe: a reassessment (2016)

Please note: This page refers to a course that has already taken place.

29 Feb 2016 - 02 Mar 2016

PRIO, Hausmanns gate 3, Oslo

Nina Boy, Kristoffer Lidén and J. Peter Burgess

5 ECTS (with course essay)

Covadonga Morales Bertrand:

J. Peter Burgess, Free University Brussels (VUB)

Julian Reid, University of Lapland

Kristoffer Lidén, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)

Médéric Martin-Mazé, King’s College London (KCL)

Nina Boy, PRIO

Reinhard Kreissl, Vienna Centre for Societal Security (VICESSE)

Rocco Bellanova, PRIO

Mareile Kaufmann, PRIO (TBC)

​This course provides an overview of scholartly perspectives and debates essential to the study of societal security in Europe. 

The course is organised in collaboration with the Societal Security Network (SOURCE) - Virtual Centre of Excellence on Societal Security in Europe, funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission.    

Course Description:

​Conflict with Russia, fight against IS, aftershocks of the global financial crisis and the refugee crisis are beginning to shape a new era of societal security in Europe. In view of a changing landscape of threats and an increasingly central role of non-state actors in the post-Cold war era, the notion of societal security shifted the traditional object of security threats – the sovereignty of the nation-state – to society. Beyond material aspects of life such as physical protection, shelter, food and subsistence, societal security includes complex moral and social aspects such as values, ideas, confidence, trust, belonging and loyalty, making social cohesion a central indicator of security.  This course presents a reassessment of societal security in the light of recent events impacting European societies. Lectures investigate key aspects including surveillance, resilience, threats and security perceptions, relations between financial crisis and societal security and security and ethics. Guiding questions will be to discern how societal security is reconfigurated in open and less visible ways, how technologies impact societal values in the securing of society and how the continued relevance of the state can be conceptualized in a paradigm of societal security. 


Mon 29 Feb
09.00 – 10.00 Introduction
10.00 – 12.00 Societal security - state of the art  (J. Peter Burgess)
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 – 15.00 Resilience (Julian Reid)   

Tue 1 March
10.00 – 12.00 Finance and security (Nina Boy) 
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 – 15.00 Ethics and security (Kristoffer Lidén)

15.00 – 17.00 Professionals of security (Médéric Martin-Mazé)
19.00 Course dinner 

Wed 2 March
10.00 – 12.00 Perceptions of security (Reinhard Kreissl)
12.00 – 13.00 Lunch
13.00 – 15.00 Surveillance (Rocco Bellanova)
15.00 – 16.00 Concluding session

(There may be changes to the course schedule.)


Application deadline: 20 January 2016

Essay proposal deadline: 15 March 2016

Essay hand-in deadline: 20 April 2016


The course awards an optional 5 ECTS (according to the standards of the University of Oslo) upon active participation and the satisfactory completion of an essay of 4000-5000 words by Wednesday, 20 April 2016.

It is not required to write an essay, but all participants are expected to read the course literature in advance and participate actively in the course sessions. Studends who follow the course without writing an essay may consult their university whether they can still get some ECTS upon documentation of active participation. A confirmation of participation is distributes to all (active) participants after the course.  

For those writing essays, an essay proposal must be submitted for approval by the organizers by 15 March 2016. The proposal should include a research question, a few lines on how it is to be addressed and reference to relevant course literaturet. Essay submission should be indicated in the application but is not binding.

The essay proposal and course essay are submitted to the course contact: The essays are evaluated by the course leaders, generally within two months after submission.


​The deadline for applications is 20th January 2016. Please fill in the application form and provide details of your research/ doctoral project under 'Research interests' and 'Other comments'. 

Who can apply? PhD candidates receive priority but graduate students and post-docs from relevant disciplines may also apply. Professionals working in the field of societal security may apply provided they have a Master degree from a relevant discipline. Current members of the Research School on Peace and Conflict only need to register.

Costs. There is no participation fee but participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation cost. Five stipends for basic accommodation at the near-by Anker Hotel are available for PhD students who do not have access to funding for such course participation through their universities. 

Applicants will be notified about the outcome of their application within a week after the deadline. Early applicants may request a prior evaluation of their application in an e-mail to  if necessary in order to make travel arrangements.

Course Literature:

 Societal security - state of the art 

Core readings:

Bilgin, Pinar (2003) Individual and societal dimensions of security, International Studies Review 5: 203–22

 Burgess,  J. Peter (2016) 'An ethics of security' in Gabi Schlag, Julian Junk and Christopher Daase (eds.) Transformations of Security Studies. Dialogues, Diversity and Discipline (London: Routledge), 94-109

Buzan, Barry, Ole Wæver and Japp de Wilde (1998) 'The societal sector', in Security: A New Framework for Analysis (Boulder: Lynne Rienner), 119-140

Additional reading:

McSweeney, Bill (1996) Identity and Security: Buzan and the Copenhagen School, Review of International Studies 22: 01, 81-93

Roe, Paul (2005) Ethnic violence and the societal security dilemma. Routledge studies in nationalism and ethnicity (New York: Routledge)

Theiler, Tobias (2003) Societal security and social psychology, Review of International Studies 29: 2, 249-68

Waever, Ole (2008)'The Changing Agenda of Societal Security', in Hans Günter Brauch, Úrsula Oswald Spring, Czeslaw Mesjasz, John Grin, Pál Dunay, Navnita Chadha Behera, Béchir Chourou, Patricia Kameri-Mbote and P. H. Liotta, eds., Globalization and Environmental Challenges. Springer Berlin Heidelberg: 581-93


Core reading:

Brad Evans & Julian Reid (2014) Resilient Life: The Art of Living Dangerously (Cambridge: Polity), especiallay Chapters 1-2 

Boris Cyrulnik (2009) Resilience: How Your Inner Strength Can Set You Free From The Past (London: Penguin), especially Chapters 1-2

Additional reading:

Adam Morton (2013) Emotion and Imagination (Oxford: Polity) 

David Chandler (2014) Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (London: Routledge)

Judith Butler and Athena Athanasiou (2013) Dispossession: The Performance in the Political (Polity), Chapters 1-6

The 9/11 Commission Report: The Full Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (New York, W. W. Norton and Co., 2004), 339-60​

Finance and security

Core reading:

de Goede, Marieke (2010) 'Financial Security,' in J. Peter Burgess (ed.) The Routledge Handbook of New Security Studies (London: Routledge), 100-110

Boy, Nina (2016) 'Financial security' in J. Junk, C. Daase and G. Schlag (eds) Transformations of Security: Dialogue, Diversity, Discipline (London: Routledge), 156-170

Additional reading:

Boy, Nina et al (2015) Analytic report on the impact of the financial crisis on societal security in Europe Available at SOURCE website:

Boy, Nina et al (2015) Report on the role of financial regulation in the provision of security. Available at SOURCE website:

Boy, Nina (2015) Report on the theory of risk as a societal security instrument Available at SOURCE website:

Ethics and security

Core reading:

Burgess, J. Peter (2010) The Ethical Subject of Security: Geopolitical Reason and the Threat to Europe. (London: Routledge), Introduction and Conclusion

Chandler, David (2014) Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (London: Routledge), Chapter 6

The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Security Technologies, Ethics of Security and Surveillance Technology. Opinion 28. European Commission. Chapter 3. Available at:   

Additional reading:

Chandler, David (2014) Resilience: The Governance of Complexity (London: Routledge), Chapters 7-9

Burgess, J. Peter (2010)The Ethical Subject of Security: Geopolitical Reason and the Threat to Europe. (London: Routledge), Chapters 1-2

Lidén, Kristoffer and Ben Hayes, with Médéric Martin-Mazé, Roger Von Laufenberg and Reinhard Kreissl (2015) Report on Human Values in Threat Analysis. SOURCE. Available at .  

Professionals of security

Core reading:

Bigo, Didier, Julien Jeandesboz, Emmanuel-Pierre Guittet, and Amandine Scherrer (2011) Developing an EU Internal Security Strategy, Fighting Terrorism and Organised Crime. Brussels: European Parliament - Committee on Civil Liberties Study

Bigo, Didier, and Médéric Martin-Mazé (2014) Report on Theory and Methodology for Mapping of Societal Security Networks (SOURCE - D4.1). London: King's College. Available at:

Additional reading:

Bigo, Didier, Laurent Bonelli, Dario Chi, and Christian Olsson. (2007) Mapping the Field of the EU Internal Security Agencies. In The Field of the EU Internal Security Agencies, Cultures et conflits, edited by Didier Bigo. Paris: L'Harmattan

Georgakakis, Didier, and Jay Rowell, Eds. (2013) The Field of Eurocracy: Mapping EU Actors and Professionals. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.

Lebaron, F. (2009) How Bourdieu Quantified Bourdieu: The Geometric Modelling of Data. Available at:

Venturini, Tommaso, Nicolas Baya Laffite, Jean-Philippe Cointet, Ian Gray, Vinciane Zabban, and Kari De Pryck (2014) Three Maps and Three Misunderstandings: A Digital Mapping of Climate Diplomacy. Big Data & Society 1: 2053951714543804.

Perceptions of security

Core reading:

Sarasin, Philipp (2008) Anthrax. Bioterror as Fact and Fantasy (Harvard University Press)

Davis, Mike (1998) Ecology of Fear: Los Angeles and the Imagination of Disaster (Metropolitan)

Molotch, Harvey (2012) Against Security. How we go wrong at Airports, Subways and other Sites of Ambiguous Danger (Princeton University Press)

Beckett, Kathy (1997) Making Crime Pay (Oxford University Press)


Core reading:

Aas, K. F (2011) 'Crimmigrant' bodies and bona fide travelers: Surveillance, citizenship and global governance. Theoretical Criminology, 15, 331-346.

Bauman, Z., Bigo, D., Estevez, P., Guild, E., Jabri, V., Lyon, D. & Walker, R. B. J. (2014) After Snowden: Rethinking the Impact of Surveillace. International Political Sociology, 8, 121-144.

Gonzales Fuster, G., Bellanova,  Rocco & Gellert, R (2015) Nurturing Ob-Scene Politics: Surveillance Practices Between In/Visibilities and Disappearances. Surveillance & Society, 13, 512-527.

Additional reading:

Dijstembloem, H. & Broeders, D. (2014) Border surveillance, mobility management and the shaping of non-publics in Europe. European Journal of Social Theory, 18, 21-38.

Lyon, D. 2014. Surveillance, Snowden, and Big Data: Capacities, consequences, critique. Big Data & Society, 1, 1-13.

Recommended further reading: 

Burgess, J. Peter (2010) Handbook of New Security Studies (London: Routledge)