Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Alexandra Gheciu's "Security Entrepreneurs"

Alexandra Gheciu is an Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and Associate Director of the Centre for International Policy Studies, University of Ottawa. Her research interests are in the fields of international security, international institutions, Euro-Atlantic relations, global governance, state (re)building, and International Relations theory. Her publications include The Return of the Public in Global Governance (co-edited with Jacqueline Best,  2014), Securing Civilization? (2008), and NATO in the New Europe (2005).

Gheciu applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest monograph, Security Entrepreneurs: Performing Protection in Post-Cold War Europe, and reported the following:
Can a single page really reveal the quality of an entire book? When I was invited to apply the “page 99 test” to Security Entrepreneurs, I was a little skeptical. Still, I could see no good reason not to play this game. So I promptly opened the book and was surprised to see that page 99 does reveal at least one important aspect of the core argument. The book focuses on the commercialization of security provision in post-Cold War Eastern Europe. It seeks to challenge conventional thinking about the field of security by showing how functions traditionally attributed to the state are now performed by hybrid networks of actors that transcend traditional boundaries between domestic/international, public/private, legitimate and illicit arenas. Participants in those networks behave, in many ways, as entrepreneurs; they also resort to a multitude of “staging” techniques in an effort to secure broad support for their actions.

Page 99 gives the reader some sense of one of the key facets of security commercialization: how private security companies (PSCs), as key actors in the contemporary security field, both cooperate and compete with public agencies as they seek to play increasingly powerful roles both in national settings and at the international level. Thus, we learn on page 99 that:
we can conceptualize PSCs’ strategies deployed in struggles over positions as [...]being designed to demonstrate partial compliance with the basic rules of the game, while at the same time challenging the field setting and seeking to partly redefine the roles of the private security industry. What is being fought over in this context is the definition of the roles of PSCs as producers of public security. The aim pursued by private security actors is to broaden the mandate of PSCs as key producers of public security, with the ability to perform a more prominent position in the governance and provision of security than is currently allowed. To this end, PSCs enact performances of security in which they deploy strategies aimed at accumulating capital to support their positions in the security “game,” and to effectively compete and struggle over definitions over who has what rights and responsibilities in the governance and provision of security.
Of course, this is part of a much larger story—and many aspects of that story are not revealed on page 99. Hopefully, though, this page will inspire the reader to read the entire book, and in so doing to learn about other aspects of security commercialization, such as: 1. the ways in which a potent commercial logic has come to permeate public security institutions, altering in problematic ways the relationship between the state and its citizens; 2. the links between changes in former communist countries and the redefinition of “rules of the game” of security provision at the European level; and 3. the dark side of security commercialization, including the powerful roles played by illicit businesses and criminal groups in contemporary (in)security provision.
Learn more about Security Entrepreneurs at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue