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Health security in the European Union: Agents, practices and materialities of securitization
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History and International Relations.
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Over the past two decades, the notion of ‘health security’ has emerged as a central tenet of European Union (EU) public health policy. This PhD thesis examines the rise and implications of health security cooperation, associated with an imperative to fight ‘bioterrorist attacks’, pandemics and other natural or man-made events. The study is composed of an introductory chapter as well as five related but self-contained papers, based on participant observation and 52 in-depth interviews at the European Commission as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). More specifically, the thesis as a whole explores how security perspectives mattered in different ways for the rise and implications of health security cooperation in the EU. Unlike previous studies which have tended to focus on normative aspects and overarching global dynamics, the thesis examines drivers, contradictions and tensions in a particular, highly institutionalized context. In order to answer a set of empirically motivated questions, the papers draw on various understandings of securitization in critical security studies. The over-all findings cast light on the emergence of a new way of understanding health problems as rapidly emerging, and often external, ‘cross-border threats to health’. The latter may include major infectious disease outbreaks, but also deliberate or accidental release of chemical or biological substances, natural disasters or any other unknown event assumed to threaten not only public health but society as a whole. In the search for potential crises, these are to be rapidly detected and contained rather than prevented in line with traditional public health policy. Partly arising from political speech acts after September 11 as well as bureaucratic practices carving out a role for the EU in public health, these new priorities have also been shaped by EU-specific digital surveillance tools, information sharing platforms and methodologies for managing risk. The findings also point to forms of reflexivity and instances of contestation within the EU institutions themselves, especially in relation to migrant health. As a whole, the thesis thus contributes empirically to a better understanding of how both health and security have come to be pursued within the EU institutions. Theoretically it highlights how approaches to securitization, drawn from partially different scholarly traditions, can be employed as empirically sensitive analytical tools and thereby add to a better understanding of the full prism of securitization processes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Department of Economic History and International Relations, Stockholm University , 2019. , p. 43
Series
Stockholm Studies in International Relations, ISSN 2003-1343 ; 2
Keywords [en]
Health security, securitization, critical security studies, European Union, public health
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
International Relations
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-167276ISBN: 978-91-7797-704-9 (print)ISBN: 978-91-7797-705-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-167276DiVA, id: diva2:1298589
Public defence
2019-06-05, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12, Stockholm, 09:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-05-13 Created: 2019-03-25 Last updated: 2019-05-09Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Securitisation across borders: the case of ‘health security’ cooperation in the European Union
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Securitisation across borders: the case of ‘health security’ cooperation in the European Union
2019 (English)In: West European Politics, ISSN 0140-2382, E-ISSN 1743-9655, Vol. 42, no 2, p. 346-368Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Global health governance has increasingly become articulated and acted upon in ways that emphasise ‘health security’. This article applies a collective securitisation approach to understand how a particular governance regime has evolved at the European level, one concerned with large-scale ‘threats’ to public health and societies at large. The analysis shows that alongside elite-level securitisation moves, transnational professional networks and bureaucratic actors have also taken part both as securitising agents and audience, with outcomes reflected not only in policy change but also new EU-specific surveillance technologies, institutional structures, and information-sharing platforms. While these developments are partially interlinked with global trends, we show that the EU has gradually institutionalised its own approach to health security. This new status quo is enshrined in a legal framework and set of practices with an all-hazards approach targeting preparedness, early detection and containment of ‘serious cross-border threats to health’ of any origin – beyond infectious disease.

Keywords
Collective securitisation, public health, health security, European Union, critical security studies
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-164102 (URN)10.1080/01402382.2018.1510198 (DOI)000456953100007 ()
Available from: 2019-01-12 Created: 2019-01-12 Last updated: 2019-04-12Bibliographically approved
2. Desecuritizing migrant health: Eurocratic practices between rearticulation, resistance and silencing
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Desecuritizing migrant health: Eurocratic practices between rearticulation, resistance and silencing
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
International Relations
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168296 (URN)
Available from: 2019-04-29 Created: 2019-04-29 Last updated: 2019-04-29Bibliographically approved
3. Which crisis? The promise of standardized risk ranking in the field of infectious disease control
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Which crisis? The promise of standardized risk ranking in the field of infectious disease control
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Other Social Sciences
Research subject
International Relations
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-168295 (URN)
Available from: 2019-04-29 Created: 2019-04-29 Last updated: 2019-04-29Bibliographically approved
4. European security and early warning systems: from risks to threats in the European Union’s health security sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>European security and early warning systems: from risks to threats in the European Union’s health security sector
2018 (English)In: European Security, ISSN 0966-2839, E-ISSN 1746-1545, Vol. 27, no 1, p. 20-40Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article critically examines a poorly understood aspect of the European security landscape: early warning systems (EWSs). EWSs are socio-technical systems designed to detect, analyse, and disseminate knowledge on potential security issues in a wide variety of sectors. We first present an empirical overview of more than 80 EWS in the European Union. We then draw on debates in Critical Security Studies to help us make sense of the role of such systems, tapping into conceptual debates on the construction of security issues as either "threat" or "risk" related. Finally, we study one EWS - the Early Warning and Response System for infectious diseases - to understand how it works and how it reconciles risk versus threat-based security logics. Contrary to assumptions of a clear distinction between risk-and threat-based logics of security, we show that EWSs may serve as a "transmission belt" for the movement of issues from risk into threats.

Keywords
European security, early warning systems, risk, threats, health security
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157992 (URN)10.1080/09662839.2017.1394845 (DOI)000435387700002 ()
Funder
EU, Horizon 2020
Available from: 2018-07-03 Created: 2018-07-03 Last updated: 2019-04-12Bibliographically approved
5. Assembling European health security: Epidemic intelligence and the hunt for cross-border health threats
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Assembling European health security: Epidemic intelligence and the hunt for cross-border health threats
2019 (English)In: Security Dialogue, ISSN 0967-0106, E-ISSN 1460-3640, Vol. 50, no 2, p. 115-130Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The securitization of health concerns within the European Union has hitherto received scant attention compared to other sectors. Drawing on the conceptual toolbox of actor-network theory, this article examines how a ‘health security assemblage’ rooted in EU governance has emerged, expanded, and stabilized. At the heart of this assemblage lies a particular knowledge regime, known as epidemic intelligence (EI): a vigilance-oriented approach of early detection and containment drawing on web-scanning tools and other informal sources. Despite its differences compared to entrenched traditions in public health, EI has, in only a decade’s time, gained central importance at the EU level. EI is simultaneously constituted by, and performative of, a particular understanding of health security problems. By ‘following the actor’, this article seeks to account for how EI has made the hunt for potential health threats so central that detection and containment, rather than prevention, have become the preferred policy options. This article draws out some of the implications of this shift.

Keywords
Actor-network theory, critical security studies, epidemic intelligence, European Union, health security, materiality
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Economic History
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-166336 (URN)10.1177/0967010618813063 (DOI)000461439500001 ()
Available from: 2019-02-24 Created: 2019-02-24 Last updated: 2019-04-12Bibliographically approved

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