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I don't have to spare more words about the importance of this area of academic study and political discourse, but to share with you some of the works that are essential in this field. *Caveat lector: previous exposure to general IR literature can be of help when plunging into Security Studies.
Below are two good textbooks - a convenient place to start.
Security Studies: An Introduction, edited by Paul D. Williams is probably the most systematically organized book to date, that serves to bring the most important theoretical concepts, strands, debates and issues in Security Studies to university students. Chapters are contributed by some of the top scholars, such as Cornelia Navari, Pinar Bilgin, Ken Booth, Simon Dalby, Thomas Weiss, Michael T. Klare, among others.
Routledge Handbook of Security Studies edited by Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Victor Mauer is another introductory book that caught my attention. It covers various theoretical approaches, contemporary security challenges, regional security challenges and ways to confronting security challenges. The essays are written by some of the leading academics in the field, e.g. Barry Buzan, Iver Neumann, Richard Ned Lebow, Alex Bellamy and others.
Reading original works
There are at least three articles which a student of International Security simply "must" read.
"National Security As An Ambiguous Symbol"(1952) by Arnold Wolfers is considered a classic! It is widely read today and serves as a basis for understanding subjective and objective meaning of the concept of security.
"The Renaissance of Security Studies"(1991) by Stephen M. Walt is an attempt at history and periodization of Security Studies until the end of the Cold War, and it is a mandatory read if you want to understand how Security Studies developed in the 20th century.The discipline is today well and alive, and is much more than a "study of the threat, use and control of military force" as Walt has defined it a quarter century ago.
"The Concept of Security" (1997) by David Baldwin offers a unique framework for analysing security by asking the seven questions. Also, the concept of security is examined carefully and defined so as not to be contested. Any serious study in security cannot omit Baldwin from its bibliography.
Diving deeper into Security Studies
Works of Barry Buzan and associates
This professor of the London School of Economics is considered one of the doyens of the modern Security Studies and contributed to widening and broadening of the discipline. His works written over 20 years People, States and Fear (1983, 1991), Security: A New Framework for Analysis (co-authored, 1997) and Regions and Powers (co-author, 2003) have advanced the understanding of security being more than military and politics by introducing the idea of sectors and playing with different levels of analysis.
Security is also a speech-act, so the use of language and its implications for security are the subject of the Copenhagen School. The most important author here is Ole Waever. Also, watch for the authors such as Didier Bigo and Thierry Balzacq, among others.
Critical Security Studies
The term critical security studies emerged in 1994, and in broad terms they seek for 'emancipation' by looking for chang to 'social organization of the present' - being basically a foundation of the 'politics of social critique' in words of David Mutimer, one of the leading critical security scholars.
In 2013, the journal called Critical Studies on Security has been established. It seems there is a lot of space for development here, so stay tuned for the new exciting works which are crossed with other disciplines - from philosophy, sociology, ecology, culture studies, etc.
Some of the authors to watch are Ken Booth, David Mutimer, Can Mutlu, among others.
How is your reading? This list can be composed in many other ways, so let us know what you would add to it in the comments section below.