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International Security: An Analytical Survey

Michael Sheehan
International Security: An Analytical Survey
ISBN: 978-1-58826-273-8
ISBN: 978-1-58826-298-1
ISBN: 978-1-62637-938-1
2005/201 pages/LC: 2004020539

"A readily digestible and comprehensive look at how a deeper understanding of security has emerged.... Well suited to students of international relations at all levels."—Lt. Col. Michael Rostek, Canadian Army Journal

"A wide-ranging thought-provoking examination of the ways in which the concept of security is produced and used."—Choice

"A comprehensive treatment of the security agenda, wide-ranging and well informed."—John Williams, University of Durham

"A welcome addition.... This survey and critique of the central problem of international relations is to be recommended as a contribution to security studies in general, and is also one of only a few books to address the issue from the Critical Security perspective."—Bill McSweeney, Trinity College Dublin


Michael Sheehan provides a masterly survey of the varied positions that scholars have adopted in interpreting "security"—one of the most contested terms in international relations—and proposes a synthesis that both widens and deepens our understanding of the concept.

Sheehan first outlines the classical realist approach of Morgenthau and Carr and the ideas of their neorealist heirs. He then explores how the economic security approach embraces both defense economics and human security from poverty and hunger; and how environmental security links environment and security in a fundamental challenge to the international political hierarchy.

Next, tackling the various postpositivist perspectives on security, he explains the range of feminist thought on security, the ideas of the critical security school, and the main concerns of postmodern security theory. In conclusion, revealing his own interpretation of security, he makes the case for a postpositivist conception that links human emancipation, justice, and peace.


Michael Sheehan is professor of international relations at the University of Swansea, Wales. His recent publications include The Balance of Power: History and Theory and National and International Security.


  • Introduction.
  • Realism and Security.
  • Security Communities and Democratic Peace.
  • The Broader Agenda.
  • Economic Security.
  • Societal Security.
  • Environmental Security.
  • Gender and Security.
  • Postmodernism and Security.
  • Critical Security.
  • Conclusions.
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