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The neoliberal way of war: a critical analysis of contemporary British security in policy and practice.

Whitham, B. (2015) The neoliberal way of war: a critical analysis of contemporary British security in policy and practice. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Dominant paradigms of causal explanation for why and how Western liberal-democracies go to war in the post-Cold War era remain versions of the 'liberal peace' or 'democratic peace' thesis. Yet such explanations have been shown to rest upon deeply problematic epistemological and methodological assumptions. Of equal importance, however, is the failure of these dominant paradigms to account for the 'neoliberal revolution' that has gripped Western liberal-democracies since the 1970s. The transition from liberalism to neoliberalism remains neglected in analyses of the contemporary Western security constellation. Arguing that neoliberalism can be understood simultaneously through the Marxian concept of ideology and the Foucauldian concept of governmentality – that is, as a complementary set of 'ways of seeing' and 'ways of being' – the thesis goes on to analyse British security in policy and practice, considering it as an instantiation of a wider neoliberal way of war. In so doing, the thesis draws upon, but also challenges and develops, established critical discourse analytic methods, incorporating within its purview not only the textual data that is usually considered by discourse analysts, but also material practices of security. This analysis finds that contemporary British security policy is predicated on a neoliberal social ontology, morphology and morality – an ideology or 'way of seeing' – focused on the notion of a globalised 'network-market', and is aimed at rendering circulations through this network-market amenable to neoliberal techniques of government. It is further argued that security practices shaped by this ideology imperfectly and unevenly achieve the realisation of neoliberal 'ways of being' – especially modes of governing self and other or the 'conduct of conduct' – and the re-articulation of subjectivities in line with neoliberal principles of individualism, risk, responsibility and flexibility. The policy and practice of contemporary British 'security' is thus recontextualised as a component of a broader 'neoliberal way of war'.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Behnke, A.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Politics, Economics & International Relations
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:40993
Date on Title Page:2014


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