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Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit

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Our research is about the way in which ordinary people shape or try to shape the decisions that affect their lives with a particular focus on security. By civil society we refer to the medium (social movements, associations, media, for example) through which individuals can participate in public debates. By human security we mean the security of the individual and the community in which he or she lives as opposed to the security of states and borders.

In terms of content, we are concerned with explaining how individuals and social actors navigate the disjunctures between institutions and everyday life, whether it is the disjuncture between financial institutions and low-income home owners, military capabilities and the insecurity of ordinary Afghans or Iraqis; global deals on climate change and the vulnerability to floods and famine; or formal elections and the aspirations of street protesters.

This kind of research requires a rethinking of social science knowledge and of our methodologies. Our methods are characterised by three interconnected components. First we adopt a dialogic rather than a monologic approach. All of us are concerned with bringing together tacit knowledge – the everyday knowledge of people who experience war or financial crisis as well as the knowledge of practitioners- with social science knowledge. Our sort of social science aims to digest, categorise and analyse tacit knowledge as well as more traditional approaches to social science. Thus we combine exotic theories with more conventional data bases or subjective experience with external observation.

Secondly we are applying the concepts of complexity and reflexivity. One is concerned with methods of pulling together multiple dimensions of social life. The other is concerned with the role we ourselves play as agents as well as observers - how our observations influence what we are observing and how those who are observed influence us.

See A Human Security Doctrine for Europe.


IR250: The Global Politics of Protest and Change, LSE Summer School 2016
This course is unique in its bottom-up approach to the study of politics and social change, emphasizing the role of human agency and activism in the process of globalization. Lectures in the course focus on specific issues ranging from political consumerism, new media and forms of protest, to the anti-capitalist movement and the 'war on terror'. Read about Arif's summer school experience.

Global Civil Society DV429 - half unit
This course provides students with the conceptual and empirical background that allows them to critically engage with the complex debate over global civil society and to assess the potential and the challenges of civil society activism in the context of our increasingly globalising world.

Human Security DV434 - half unit
This course will introduce students to the debates about the concept of human security and its relevance in the contemporary era. It will combine political, military, legal and economic approaches to human security implementation.