The Open UniversitySkip to content

Governing terrorism through risk: Taking precautions, (un)knowing the future

Aradau, Claudia and van Munster, Rens (2007). Governing terrorism through risk: Taking precautions, (un)knowing the future. European Journal of International Relations, 13(1) pp. 89–115.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (225kB)
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The events of 9/11 appeared to make good on Ulrich Beck's claim that we are now living in a (global) risk society. Examining what it means to ‘govern through risk’, this article departs from Beck's thesis of risk society and its appropriation in security studies. Arguing that the risk society thesis problematically views risk within a macro-sociological narrative of modernity, this article shows, based on a Foucauldian account of governmentality, that governing terrorism through risk involves a permanent adjustment of traditional forms of risk management in light of the double infinity of catastrophic consequences and the incalculability of the risk of terrorism. Deploying the Foucauldian notion of ‘dispositif’, this article explores precautionary risk and risk analysis as conceptual tools that can shed light on the heterogeneous practices that are defined as the ‘war on terror’.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2007 SAGE Publications and ECPR-European Consortium for Political Research
ISSN: 1460-3713
Keywords: governmentality; precaution; risk society; securitization; terrorism;
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 8945
Depositing User: Claudia Aradau
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2007
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 11:08
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU