Imagining the Day after Tomorrow - Popular Culture, Legitimation, and Environmental Securitization

Alan Klæbel Weisdorf

Research output: Contribution to conference without a publisher/journalPaperResearch


This paper investigates the link between popular culture, cultural legitimacy, and the prospects for the success of securitizing moves particularly as it pertains to environmental security. It will be argued that similarly to security discourses, popular culture frames an uncertain future by presenting a limited horizon of expectation it turns particular possibilities of future existence into certainties in the present. Furthermore, the case will be made that as texts, security discourses and popular culture forms a symbiotic relation where they lend each other credibility and authority. If these assertions are correct it means that people are being primed for securitizing moves through pop-cultural exposure. Indeed, it means that any construction of a security object/issue is dependent upon this preconditioning for its success.

In order to make the case concerning the connection between popular culture, legitimation, and environmental securitization, the paper will present a number of social theories. The baseline argument is the Copenhagen School understanding of security as socially constituted. Furthermore, the paper emphasize that security always concerns future projections. And according to Paul Ricoeur, such temporal projections necessarily take the format of a narrative emplotment, that is, as a story of the future. Accordingly, security discourses share a structural similarity as text with popular culture that also tells stories. This links the discussion to the theory of intertextual relations. According to the idea of intertextuality, any text (such as the environmental security discourse) is read in relation to, not in isolation from, other texts. That means that the acceptance or rejection of a security discourse is dependent on its resonance in other texts, including popular cultural texts. In other words, it is argued that any securitization must take place within a social field already constituted by a process of legitimation that designates the scope of meaningful action. Following the same logic, it is argued that securitizing discourses can piggyback on popular culture, which makes it easier to pass the threshold that divides normal policy from security policy. This I would argue presents a significant democratic challenge in this age of risk societies and wars on terror.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date28 Feb 2007
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 28 Feb 2007
EventInternational Studies Association: 48th Annual Convention - Chicago, United States
Duration: 28 Feb 20073 Mar 2007
Conference number: 48


ConferenceInternational Studies Association
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

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