ISBN: 978-1-4422-7525-6 (hardcover) / 978-1-7526-3 (paperback) / 978-1-7527-0 (e-book)
Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
This is a compact yet comprehensive overview of debates regarding the security concept. Neack approaches the topic in a conversational fashion, anticipating possible questions from readers along the way, including – How do we measure security? Or, What should be secure and why? These questions address values which are thought to be objects for security, as well as possible threats to them. Overall, Neack’s approach in tackling concepts and theory within a broader discussion of current events makes the text readily accessible and easy to read. The author locates security in ‘real world‘ problems, not least challenges brought on by migration, which serves as an excellent example of an issue that crosses national, international, and human security discourses. At the same time however, the book is primarily about national security. Neack focuses on various aspects of state-based security, as perspective that continues to dominate today. However, her emphasis on using the state as a type of ‘ground zero‘ for discussing security is problematic, as it disguises the complex history of the security concept. Indeed, security has had as much to do with the individual and community as it has had to do with the state. Claiming that any discussion of security must begin with the state, perpetuates rather than questions and challenges the development of the concept. The heavy state-based focus is clear also in the last chapter on human security, where the author chooses to focus on ‘freedom from fear‘ issues reflecting state-centric concerns, policy, and practices. This book is thus useful mainly for those wishing to understand various security perspectives from within a state-based framework.