Security and Political Engagement

Assistant Director Research

John Langmore was a lecturer in economics and Assistant Director of the Central Planning Office in Papua New Guinea; and economic advisor to the Australian Parliamentary Labor Party, before being elected as MP for Fraser in 1984. He resigned in 1996 to join the United Nations as Director of the Division for Social Policy and Development in New York.

Theme description

This theme addresses three key questions:

  • How are risks created and perceived by individuals, groups and governments involved in the policy process?
  • How do these impact on feelings of insecurity of the person, the group and of the State?
  • What role might existing or new forms of social and political engagement at local, national and multinational levels play in enhancing security?

Discourses of insecurity and risk now predominate in many approaches to public policy. Their consequences for social security, health services, climate change, political alienation, and civil and interstate conflict have become major focuses of research and scholarly thought.

This theme aims to investigate ways in which individuals, families, communities, societies and states experience, perceive and respond to insecurity. It will draw on a range of disciplinary and policy perspectives.

There are many powerful personal psychological, emotional and physical causes of insecurity. These often originate in, or are exacerbated by external factors such as:

  • economic, social, educational, cultural and ecological deprivation
  • marginalisation, dispossession and severe inequality
  • natural disasters, crime, violent civil and inter-state war; and
  • ineffective political processes of engagement and representation

More rigorous analysis of the causes of insecurity is required as the basis for both understanding and development of policies to strengthen security. Emphases will extend beyond analysis to study of alternative forms of innovation. In doing so the theme includes issues of democratic legitimacy, sovereignty, rights and justice. Consideration will be given to the role and responses of state and non-state actors, including the media, in strengthening security, and in identifying and representing individual and collective interests and the common good.

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