The dual-use security dilemma and the social construction of insecurity

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In this article I introduce the concept of the “dual-use security dilemma,” specifically through elaborating on two main aspects that shape this dilemma. First, inspired by traditional security scholarship, I focus on the spiral dynamics of actors responding to the insecurities raised by dual-use technologies that affect this type of dilemma. Second, I further develop a securitization reading of the traditional security dilemma, tracing how social constructions of insecurities and the justification of extraordinary measures affect the dynamics of the security dilemma. Combining these two aspects, I suggest that enunciators shape the dynamics of the dual-use security dilemma by using specific rationales of insecurity to mobilize support for measures against opponents holding dual-use technologies, whose response further fuels insecurity that spirals over time. The innovative theoretical and policy implications of this research become especially important given the rise of dual-use cyber technologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-285
Number of pages29
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Dual use
  • securitization
  • security dilemma
  • technology


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