Making Switzerland secure, making security Swiss (new book chapter)

HTSCWhat does it take to safeguard a country like Switzerland? And is the national security system, which exudes certainty to those controlled by its agents, indeed as fortified as it appears? This essay chapter in Salvatore Vitale’s photographic visual study of 21st century statehood discusses the history and political sociology of the Swiss national security field. It lends a special eye to the the authorities capable of defining what security is or ought to be about, and asks whether the field has become more accessible and participatory in recent years.

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Hagmann, Jonas (2019). Making Switzerland secure, making security Swiss. In: Vitale, Salvatore (ed.). How to Secure a Country, pp261-265. Zürich: Lars Müller Publishers. PDF

The effects of transformative global events on International Relations scholarship (new journal article)

ISPIt is generally accepted today that major international events – such as in 1914, 1945, 1989 or 2001 – contribute to guiding IR scholarship’s interests. Yet, it remains surprisingly poorly explored how, beyond substantive focus, transformative political events affect the academic field’s own working and organization. Whereas we know that global key moments (such as the end of the Cold War) were or are experienced differently by different societies, at the policy level, in terms of identity-construction and historiography, it remains to explore how such changes influence scholarly work in different higher education systems. This forthcoming article in International Studies Perspectives focuses on this linkage. It centers on the role of institutional factors in the conditioning of IR scholarship, which it sees as important yet under-explored intervening elements in the interrelation between political events and academic practice. The article defines the utility of such focus and illustrates it with casework centering on the end of the Cold War, and three central parties to the Cold War conflict – Russia as representative of the Eastern Bloc, Canada of the Western Alliance, and Switzerland as a Neutral polity. In doing so, the article showcases how institutional factors such as funding schemes, the marketization of education or creation of new IR departments operate as effective ‘hinges’, exerting significant influence over the ways scholars develop ideas about international relations.

Grenier, Félix; Hagmann, Jonas; Lebedeva, Marina; Nikitina, Yulia; Biersteker, Thomas; Koldunova, Ekatarina (forth.). The institutional ‘hinge’: How the end of the Cold War conditioned Canadian, Russian and Swiss IR scholarship. International Studies Perspectives. PDF

SPSR article on the programmatic and institutional reconfiguration of Swiss national security (out now)

SPSRIt is widely known that national security fields changed considerably in the last decades. Different from the late Cold War years, when they focused on military threats, were closely orchestrated by Defence Ministries and contained few international contacts, national security ‘systems’ today handle wide sets of dangers, draw on complex casts of actors across levels of government, and often maintain working relations with multiple foreign partners. This comprehensive reconfiguration of national security fields is a central theme to security scholars and policymakers alike – but also difficult to pin down for methodological reasons. Written documentation on security agencies does not give precise indication of actual everyday inter-agency work practices, and assessments of nationwide security work across functions and levels of government are challenging by sheer questions of size. Adopting a practice-oriented approach to security research, this article draws on an unparalleled nationwide data collection effort to differentiate and map-out the Swiss security field’s programmatic and institutional evolution.

Figure 1: Ministerial threat management practice Ministerialthreatmanagement

Figure 11: Transnational inter-agency cooperation in Swiss national security Interagencytransnational


Hagmann, Jonas; Davidshofer, Stephan; Tawfik, Amal; Wenger, Andreas; Wildi, Lisa (2018). The programmatic and institutional (re-)configuration of the Swiss national security field. Swiss Political Science Review 24(3): 215-245. PDF / Score tables / OpenAccess URL

JIRD piece on the construction of collective international insecurity (out now)

JIRDHow do notions of collective international insecurity come about, and what are their effects on foreign policy-making? The Copenhagen School’s securitization theory offers a powerful take on the political construction of threats. In its original variant, however, the theory focuses strongly on the deontic (norm-breaking) powers of ‘security talk’ – and not on the threat sceneries that the latter substantively describes. This article addresses this latter link by reworking securitization into a positional/relational argument. Seen its way, the framing of something as threatening comes with larger – often implicit – claims about threatening and threatened actors in world politics. The empirical cases on post-war France and West Germany show how securitization equals an epistemological systematization of international affairs, for the political construction of collective international danger becomes an ordering process that conditions foreign policy strategizing.


Hagmann, Jonas (2018). Securitisation and the production of international order(s). Journal of International Relations and Development 21(1): 194-222. PDF

Coopération et/ou/malgré neutralité ? Article sur la transformation du paysage sécuritaire suisse

QI LaSuisseDepuis la naissance de la Suisse moderne en 1848, sécurité a constamment rimé avec neutralité. De nos jours, cette dernière reste encore perçue par une large majorité de Suisses comme une garantie de protection face aux tumultes du monde. Cependant, dans la pratique, cette singularité est remise en question. Notre article dans Questions internationales démontre que dans un monde interdépendant, l’impératif de coopération, indispensable pour gérer les menaces avant tout globales et transnationales, s’accompagne d’une discrète mais profonde transformation du paysage sécuritaire du pays situé au cœur de l’Europe.

Davidshofer, Stephan; Tawfik, Amal; Hagmann, Jonas (2017). La sécurité suisse: entre neutralité et impératif de coopération. Questions internationales 87 (2017/5): 25-29. PDF

Book “(In)Security and the Production of International Relations” now in paperback

What happens to foreign politics when actors, things or processes are presented as threats? This book explains state’s international behavior based on a reflexive framework of insecurity politics. It argues that governments act on knowledge of international danger available in their societies, and that such knowledge is organized by varying ideas of who threatens whom and how. The book develops this argument and illustrates it by means of various European case studies (Germany, France, and Switzerland in particular). Moving across European history and space, these show how securitization projected abroad evolving – and often contested – local ideas of the organization of international insecurity, and how such knowledges of world politics conditioned foreign policymaking on their own terms. By moving the discipline from systemic theorizing to a theory of international systematization, the book seeks to show how world politics is, in practice, often conceived in a different way than that assumed by grand IR theory. Depicting national insecurity as a matter of political construction, the book also raises the challenging question of whether certain projections of insecurity may be considered more warranted than others.

* Paperback versions of the book can now be ordered through Routledge.


Hagmann, Jonas (2015). (In-)security and the production of international relations: The politics of securitisation in Europe. London/New York: Routledge, 244p. URL

Buchkapitel zur praktischen Strukturierung und Vernetzung des Schweizer Sicherheitsfelds

Wer arbeitet heute mit wem und wie intensiv zu welchen Gefahren? Basierend auf einer umfassenden und einzigartigen Datenerhebung kartiert dieser Beitrag die Entwicklung des gesamtschweizerischen Sicherheitsbereichs. Die Darstellung der praktischen Arbeitsteilungen, der inneren und der äusseren Kooperationen, sowie der beruflichen Profile und Werdegänge von Sicherheitspraktikern schafft einen analytisch differenzierten und empirisch fundierten Beitrag zu den anhaltenden Diskussionen über die landesweite sicherheitspolitische Steuerung. So zeigt das Kapitel, wie Sorgen um Migration und Terrorismus nunmehr das Sicherheitsfeld integrieren und das nationale Sicherheitsfeld hierarchisch in anleitende und Service-orientierte Behörden strukturiert, aber auch wie sich die internationale Sicherheitszusammenarbeit zu einer regierungsstufenübergreifenden Praxis wandelte und sich die beruflichen Werdegänge der einzelnen Unterbereiche nun langsam vermischen.

Hagmann, Jonas; Wenger, Andreas; Wildi, Lisa; Davidshofer, Stephan; Tawfik, Amal (2016). Schweizer Sicherheitspolitik in der Praxis: Eine empirische Momentaufnahme. In Nünlist, Christian; Thränert, Oliver (eds.). Bulletin zur Schweizer Sicherheitspolitik, pp99-134. Zürich: Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich. PDF