Adapting to a new security environment
: Turkey’s border security

  • Mustafa Altinpinar

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The security literature has witnessed growing attempts to re-conceptualize security outside of the traditional concern with interstate military conflict. However, the existing literature offers only limited explanations of this tendency and only focusses on new challenges and largely neglects to rethink how the new border security issues are actually governed in practice. These endeavours have brought about the need to re-conceptualise border security which was once taken as ‘a sub-set of national security’, an isolated phenomenon. The research was carried out from an interpretive perspective and used qualitative methods - including semi-structured interviews with a range of key actors in this context in Turkey and a case study conducted in Turkey’s capital Ankara and in Kilis, a province at Turkey’s Syrian border - to collect the research data. The data were analysed thematically using sector standard software. The research found that Turkey’s compartmental and archaic national security architecture and the national security approach built around it, currently pose the main threat to the state and society as the organizations and practices of security were shaped by the particular geopolitical and technical requirements of the Cold War. The need for transformation emerges as an outcome of conflicts between the key actors (state and society) and the resistance to each other’s claims for control. There is a compelling case for the reconceptualization of border security as a comprehensive approach that leads all the relevant public and private capabilities, organises all departments, transforms national security understanding and shapes the future security architecture; not simply as the discursive identification of new threats. The research also found that the most salient feature of the politics of a non-traditional border security concept lies in the willingness of the state to challenge the conception that security issues can be resolved only at the national level. It is recognised that would be an explicitly political act that has the potential to transform traditional understandings of state-hood.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAdrian James (Supervisor)

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