Cyber Security and the Politics of Time

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36 Citations (Scopus)


Time is a fundamental aspect of security, yet is relatively under-appreciated in security studies and International Relations. The development and implementation of security measures are often justified as necessary responses to the contemporary pace of global life yet little attention is paid to how time and temporality influence and shape political behaviours and security regimes. This book proposes that security can be explored within the framework of a ‘politics of time’ (chronopolitics), in which collective comprehensions of time and temporality are constitutive of political behaviours and practices like security. The specific focus is on the rapidly growing field of cyber security, which aims to regulate and exploit complex sociotechnical assemblages of networked and interdependent information technologies. It examines how cyber security communities (re)produce time and temporality and the implications of these temporal biases for the politics of cyber security. The book begins by contextualising the enquiry within an emerging body of work in security studies and IR, concerned with time, temporality, history and futurity and makes the case that these studies can be extended further theoretically and empirically. It then develops an interdisciplinary framework for the study of temporality, drawing upon sociology, anthropology, philosophy, philosophy of history and political theory.

In four empirical chapters, it applies this theoretical framework to the cyber security discourses of politicians, public officials, military, intelligence, security professionals and security academics. It explores how they imagine the accelerating present and the relative deceleration of political decision-making; how apocalyptic narratives of imminent ‘cyber catastrophes’ illustrate concerns about the immanent dangers of technology; how the past is mobilised through historical analogies to understand dystopian futures; and, how the future is metaphorically inhabited through preparedness exercises and simulations and literally populated through education, training and recruitment practices. In doing so, it draws out a series of deeper chronopolitical tendencies in contemporary cyber security, which are theorised and critiqued in the final section as the logics of assemblage, real time, event and eschaton. These logics combine and interact to form a dynamic chronopolitical manifold that helps to understand the nature and character of cyber security and, more broadly, the politics of security in a rapidly changing world. The book makes an original and innovative contribution to security studies and IR through its interdisciplinary analytical frame and through its application to cyber security, currently one of the most active areas of security policy and politics.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages280
ISBN (Electronic)9781316426852
ISBN (Print)9781107109421, 9781107521599
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015


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