Panel 14

Securing worlds to come: Methods and interests in digital security

Organizers: Matt Spencer; Daniele Pizio; Ola Michalec

University of Warwick, United Kingdom

Topics: Sociotechnologies of (in)secure worlds to come

Keywords: digital security, methods, models, architectures, infrastructures

Securing is a powerful form of anticipatory orientation, rendering worlds-to-come in terms of threats-to-come, and opening up a range of preparatory and pre-emptory mitigations (de Goede 2014, Bourne et al. 2015, Folkers 2019). Such anticipation is at the heart of digital security, informing the design of systems, services and networks of many kinds. Security problematics also deeply inform our basic conceptualisations of technological systems as complex, societally-entangled, infrastructure (Collier & Lakoff 2015). If, as Graham Smith suggests, ‘[s]ecurity is not a value in itself, but is the reflection of, and an attitude towards other values’ (2005: 586), we can always analyse any formulation of a security problem, and any security intervention that mitigates it, in terms of the worth or interest it performs.

Security methods entrench particular values, but they also create openings for challenging orthodoxies (Ermoshina & Musiani 2022) and enfold innovative future-making forces (Spencer 2021). The turn towards ‘critical security methods’ in critical security studies (Aradau et al. 2015), makes the relevance of an STS approach, focusing on the material conditions of knowledge production, particularly explicit. Inspired by this work, we regard the empirical analysis of the methodological commitments of researchers and practitioners of security, as a powerful way to unpick schemas of value, interest and anticipation that shape the contemporary world.

We would like to invite scholars of digital security to examine the intersection of methods and interest in their case studies, field sites and in their own research practice. Some of the questions contributors may explore include:

  • How are different forms of worth, value, or interest enacted in the methods and models of security practitioners and/or researchers?
  • How can engagements with the methods and interests of security help to develop or expand the conceptual and methodological repertoire of STS?
  • What characterises securing as a particular form of anticipation, and how and where is securing challenged by alternative stances such as that of hope, faith or care?
  • How do new models, methods or architectures of digital security challenge notions of future threat and opportunity?



Aradau, C., Huysmans, J., Neal, A., & Voelkner, N. (2015). Critical security methods. New frameworks for analysis. London and New York: Routledge.

Bourne, M., Johnson, H., & Lisle, D. (2015). Laboratizing the border: The production, translation and anticipation of security technologies. Security Dialogue, 46(4), 307-325.

Collier, S. J., & Lakoff, A. (2015). Vital systems security: Reflexive biopolitics and the government of emergency. Theory, Culture & Society, 32(2), 19-51.

De Goede, M. (2014). Preemption contested: Suspect spaces and preventability in the July 7 inquest. Political Geography, 39, 48-57.

Ermoshina, K., & Musiani, F. (2022). Concealing for Freedom. Mattering Press

Folkers, A. (2019). Freezing time, preparing for the future: The stockpile as a temporal matter of security. Security Dialogue, 50(6), 493-511.

Smith, G. M. (2005). Into Cerberus' lair: Bringing the idea of security to light. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 7(4), 485-507.

Spencer, M. (2021). Creative Malfunction: Finding Fault with Rowhammer. Computational Culture: A Journal of Software Studies, 8