The limits of securitization theory: Observational criticism and the curious absence of Israel

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Most discussions concerning how to evaluate theories make reference to empirical, methodological, logical, or normative criticisms. Less attention is given to how challenges in the theory itself affect the choice of cases. In this paper, I put forward the concept of observational criticism, which aims to trace biases in the empirical employment of a theory. While it overlaps with some of the criticisms mentioned above, observational criticism distinctly focuses on what we can learn about a theory through the prominence or absence of cases, or types of case, in the scholarship. To this end, I suggest a three-stage approach for this criticism and I demonstrate each of these stages, as well as the utility of this framework, through a consideration of securitization scholarship - and more specifically of how securitization studies have overlooked the case of securitization moves in Israel. I suggest that although the concept of securitization has generated a great many studies on various theoretical and empirical issues, and despite the prominence of security discourse and practices in Israel, securitization scholarship has tended to avoid studying the securitization processes of this country. Following this mode of criticism, I argue that securitization theory could be more easily implemented in the case of Israel by, among other things, further clarifying the meaning of securitization success and its duration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)390-410
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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