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Conceptualising Economic Security in an Era of Globalisation:

Helen Nesadurai

CSGR Working Paper N0. 157/05

This paper calls for an alternative conception of economic security beyond conventional neorealist-based understandings. In particular, the paper argues that a notion of economic security that does not take into account the prevailing structural condition of economic globalisation maybe far removed from the realities of contemporary life. Drawing on theoretical insights from International Political Economy, Development Economics and Economic Sociology, the paper makes a case for an alternative conceptualisation of economic secur ity defined as ensuring a low probability of damage to a set of three key economic values: (a) streams of income and consumption necessary for minimal human/family needs; (b) market integrity; and (c) distributive equity. While this alternative understanding of economic security speaks to a wider range of experiences and concerns beyond the world of inter-state rivalry and competition, the paper does not reject neorealist-based frameworks that emphasise the securing of national economic power. Instead, it supports calls for an open-ended or eclectic approach to conceptualising economic security, a methodological stand that acknowledges that a range of understandings, concerns and responses to the problem of economic security exist depending on the historical, political and social contexts of states and their societies as well as the strategic environment in which they find themselves. Studies of the East Asian experience reviewed in this paper attest to the utility of such an approach.

Keywords:- Economic security; globalisation; East Asia; governance; institutions; distributive equity