Securitisation and ‘riskification’: second-order security and the politics of climate change

Corry, Olaf (2012). Securitisation and ‘riskification’: second-order security and the politics of climate change. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 40(2) pp. 235–258.



Risk-security writers of various persuasions have suggested that risk is effectively the new security. They say risk works to widen securitisation whereby exceptional measures are made permanent and introduced to deal with merely potential, hypothetical and less-than-existential dangers. A transformation in the political logic of the security field of this kind is a potentially problematic and momentous change. However, this has so far not been much reflected in the primary theory of what security is, namely the Copenhagen School’s theory of securitisation. This article tries to tackle this problem by identifying the distinct logic of speech acts that turn issues into questions of risk politics suggesting a model for what rules or grammars they follow and what the political implications of them are. A separate kind of speech act – ‘riskification’ – is identified based on a re-theorisation of what distinguishes ‘risks’ from ‘threats’. It is argued that risk politics is not an instance of securitisation, but something distinct with its own advantages and dangers. Threat-based security deals with direct causes of harm, whereas risk-security is oriented towards the conditions of possibility or constitutive causes of harm a kind of ‘second-order’ security politics that promotes long-term precautionary governance. Separating securitisation and ‘riskification’ preserves the analytical precision of the Copenhagen School notion of securitisation, makes a new logic of security understandable to analysts of the security field, and helps to clarify what basic logic ‘normal’ non-securitised politics may follow. The new framework is demonstrated through a critical reading of literature that has suggested that climate change has been securitised.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions