Security in Hybrid Political Contexts: An End-User Approach

This paper is based upon a systematic peer-led review of literature on hybrid security arrangements in fragile and conflict-affected spaces. The overall objective is to answer the question: What is the evidence that hybrid security arrangements benefit end-users in fragile and conflict-affected spaces? To answer this seemingly simple question we set ourselves three complementary tasks:

To clarify the meanings of ‘security’ and of ‘hybrid’ as a necessary first step towards analysis of hybrid security arrangements. To do so we draw upon both the mainstream and the critical security literatures, but especially the latter since it challenges the state-centred focus of mainstream analysis;

To assess the empirical literature on security provision in hybrid political orders from the viewpoint of those who are most vulnerable and insecure (‘end-users’). Does this literature provide a convincing and empirically robust account of hybrid security arrangements? And how far is it successful in identifying whether and how end-users do or do not benefit?;

To sketch a broad research agenda for empirical analysis of hybrid security arrangements in fragile and conflict-affected spaces considered ‘from below’, i.e. from the viewpoint of end-users.

Following a discussion of the contemporary security debate, the paper outlines the rationale behind the definitions and terms adopted for the evidence searches. In particular, we propose our own definitions of security, calling attention to its dual nature: on the one hand as a process of creating and maintaining social orders, including those we call states; and on the other hand as an entitlement of those who are protected by these social orders, i.e. of end-users. Our definitions aim to complement and advance the emerging concept of hybrid political orders (HPOs), which seeks to address the conceptual and empirical shortcomings of the fragile states literature. This is followed by an abridged discussion of the methodology of systematic and peer-led literature searches carried out to answer the paper’s overarching research question.1 The results of the reviews are then critically assessed, focusing specifically on strengths and gaps in the empirical knowledge base. For the purpose of this analysis we distinguish between three different but interrelated spaces within which security is delivered, each characterised by its own distinctive power-relations and forms of security provision: securitised border spaces; fragile state Leviathans; and donor-saturated policy spaces. The paper concludes with recommendations for a future research agenda informed by what we did and did not find in the evidence review. In particular, it turns the state-centred bias of existing research upside down by asking how such a research agenda could best prioritise the experience and viewpoint of end-users.

Paper by the Justice and Security Research Programme, Department of International Development – LSE, JSRP Paper 2, Contributing Author.

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