Contested concepts and practices in security governance: evolving security approaches in El Salvador

Pries, Kari Mariska (2017) Contested concepts and practices in security governance: evolving security approaches in El Salvador. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Hope accompanied El Salvador’s peace agreements, ending 12 years of civil war. New peace and democratic renewal were expected in the tiny Central American state. Instead, extreme violence has persisted as a lived experience for individuals and a part of its state operations. Successive governments proved unable to consolidate control over the post-war crime wave. ‘Tough on crime’ public policy agendas, which included hard-handed violence-repression tactics, had little success in mitigating insecurity. In 2009, a new ex-guerrilla party, the National Liberation Front ‘Farabundo Marti’ (FMLN), was elected on a hope and change platform. The party was committed to a new approach in security governance. This presented an opportunity to study the interactions of implicated actors as they negotiated the governance of security. It raises the question: To what extent did security governance change under the FMLN government during their first administration (2009-2014)?

To address this question requires an understanding of situated security concepts and an examination of the spaces created for actor interactions to formulate the policy guiding security governance. Broadly, security is often considered to be a response to the issues threatening state, society, or the individual. In the Latin American context, this expansion largely took place within the concept of citizen security – a term which recognised both rights and responsibilities within the state. However, the term has also been responsible for problematising institutional weaknesses or failure where an apparent inability to control violence is observed, justifying the inclusion of a range of non-state security actors. Theories of hybridity or state transformation instead posit that the gaze should be directed on those spaces where security problems, once identified, are managed in practice (Hameiri & Jones, 2015).

For this study, three ‘levels’ of security governance are addressed: the national government, the Central American regional diplomatic structure, and strategic municipal jurisdictions. Second, by providing this multi-levelled analysis, the study includes the regional level, which is often ignored in existing Central American security studies. This is crucial to an understanding of the multiple and often competing agendas organising and supporting security interventions within El Salvador in a regional context of transnational threats. Third, this investigation shows the operational changes required of government institutions when other actors are introduced as authoritative participants in the process. Despite multi-actor, multi-level security governance strategies working to mobilise new actors, security concepts, and operational frameworks to reduce and manage security issues, many practical governance efforts enjoy only limited term results. This thesis concludes that broad changes in security governance structures are likely to be continually mitigated by traditional forces, limiting the potential for true transformation of security policy approaches.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Security governance, multilateral policy, Central America.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Supervisor's Name: Hume, Dr. Mo and Karyotis, Dr. Georgios
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Dr. Kari Mariska Pries
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8070
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2017 08:13
Last Modified: 09 May 2017 15:11

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