Populism and Securitization: The Corrosion of Elite Security Authority in a US-Mexico Border State

Slaven, Michael (2021) Populism and Securitization: The Corrosion of Elite Security Authority in a US-Mexico Border State. Journal of Global Security Studies . ISSN 2057-3170

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/jogss/ogab005

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Populism and Securitization: The Corrosion of Elite Security Authority in a US-Mexico Border State
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Abstract

Populists have often seemed influential in the securitization of migration, in great part through pressuring non-populist governing elites into “mainstreaming” more hardline immigration positions. This article asks why, given the presumption in securitization literatures that elite insiders possess strong authority in defining security, non-populist governing elites often in fact cede ground to populist challengers who paint immigration as a threat. Securitization and political science literatures paint very different pictures of elite-challenger dynamics, but populist and securitization claims possess key ideational similarities, in relation to the holism and autonomy of the political community, and the apoliticism of pursuing purportedly self-evident goals. However, populism articulates securitarian concepts through a moralized anti-elitism which impugns elite authority, portraying governing elites as corruptly inert toward threats facing “the people.” This article explores how this ideational relationship may affect securitization processes through a process-tracing study of the PRR’s successful pressuring of governing elites to securitize migration in the U.S. state of Arizona. There, populists’ moralized accusations of corrupt elite inaction toward urgent security threats moved governing elites to adopt positions intended to demonstrate responsiveness to public border-security anxieties, thereby inscribing securitization. Taking an “ideational” view of both concepts shows how they can form a politically influential account of “common sense.” By undermining elite security authority – thus inverting the typically theorized power dynamics of securitization – populism may open new pathways for securitized policies to emerge.

Keywords:populist radical right, securitization theory, popular sovereignty, common sense, SB 1070
Subjects:L Social studies > L243 Politics of a specific country/region
L Social studies > L222 Democracy
L Social studies > L435 Security Policy
L Social studies > L240 International Politics
L Social studies > L200 Politics
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
ID Code:44140
Deposited On:25 Mar 2021 15:24

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