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The EU and NATO in the European Security Field: Bourdieu's Practice Theory and Securitization

Margriet Drent, Arjan van den Assem

Our paper deals with the European Union and NATO as security actors in the contemporary European securityfield through the lens of Bourdieu’s practice theory. This field is in flux since broad notions of security have takencentre stage together with more traditional security threats. Former domestic security issues such as illegalimmigration, natural disasters, terrorism and crime - all elements of the new risk-society - are rapidly taking overthe security agenda, which used to be dominated by objective (military) threats to collective security. Thisdevelopment, the interaction between internal and external securitization, is of major importance to the mainactors in the European security field - NATO and the EU, as well as to the field itself. In this paper we willargue that both actors use securitization techniques in order to define and redefine the European security field;thus making issues part of the security field by securitizing them and subsequently imposing this new vision ofsocial reality on other actors in the field. However, securitization's speech act and action alone are not enough tounderstand the dynamics. Only within certain social conditions such efforts can be successful, thus understandingrequires the analysis of action, agency and structure. We will make use of Pierre Bourdieu's practice theory inorder to analyse changes in the field and its boundaries - i.e. the definition of security, the rules andregulations ('doxa'), the importance of different power resources ('capital') and thepower and influence of both actors. Our aim is to understand how NATO and the EU interact and how this affectsthe positioning of the security organizations and the properties of the field itself.

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