Date01 September 2016
Published date01 September 2016
doi : 10. 1111/p adm .12245
Shahar Hameiri and Lee Jones
Cambridge University Press, 2015, 275 pp., £58.49 (hb), ISBN: 978110711085
The debate over the study of non-traditional security threats generally features two oppos-
ing perspectives. One perspective assumes that threats like terrorism, pandemics, and
organized crime are ‘out there’ and can be objectively measured. These threats span bor-
ders thanks to the forces of economic globalization and increasingly complex technologies,
meaning that effective responses to manage them must involve non-traditional gover-
nance responses. The typical focus of scholars in this camp involves mapping or pre-
scribing those governance responses. Another perspective sees such threats, and their
governance responses, as primarily constructed through dynamic social and political pro-
cesses. The threat itself is rhetorically shaped by those articulating what the threat is and
how it should be handled, while practical responses are deployed in similarly biased ways.
Those doing the ‘shaping’, and the discursive toolkit drawn on to do so, are a reection of
broader societal forces – for good or for ill. Governing Borderless Threats by Shahar Hameiri
and Lee Jones is squarely in the latter camp.
Hameiri and Jones are not content to sit idly in that camp, however. Their approach is
one that attempts to theorize how, why, and with what effect broader societal forces shape
governance responses to non-traditional security threats. Their concern is not with the
social and political construction of threats per se; rather, it is how governance responses
are crafted to ostensibly meet those threats. They claim that they can explain diversity
in those responses – responses which are often more diverse, expansive, and ad hoc than
most academic perspectives allow for. They argue that much of modern security gover-
nance takes place in narrow,subterranean networks loosely tying together different actors
at different governance levels. Governance of non-traditional security threats is neither
wholly national nor supranational: it is best described and analysed as ‘spatial’.
The authors’ (paraphrased) research question is: why does the governance of
non-traditional security threats take such myriad forms and produce such divergent
outcomes? Their answer is that governance outcomes are the result of contending
attempts by groups of actors to carve out new spaces in the pursuit of subjective, and
quite fundamental, societal interests. Those interests reect the advancement (or not)
of broader societal, class-related forces within a particular historical context that are
changing the nature of the state. This claries the meaning of the book’s subtitle: the
authors argue that the construction and shape of non-traditional security governance in
the world today is an extension of a wider ‘politics of state transformation’.
The authors construct their argument in three steps. First, they state that non-traditional
threats are qualitatively different from traditional threats. Traditional threats involve mil-
itary relations between states and state actors. Non-traditional threats involve responses
from a broader array of societal actors, state agencies, and cross-border networks.
Public Administration Vol.94, No. 3, 2016 (854–861)
© 2016 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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