Defining the human security understanding and expectations of the Queensland Branch of the United Firefighters' Union in the context of Australia's burgeoning Asian free-trade ambitions

Wilson, Hugh B. (2005) Defining the human security understanding and expectations of the Queensland Branch of the United Firefighters' Union in the context of Australia's burgeoning Asian free-trade ambitions. [USQ Project] (Unpublished)

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Abstract

[Abstract]: In this dissertation, the author has undertaken research involving the executive of the United Firefighters’ Union - Queensland Branch (UFUQ) to develop a practical definition and application for the emerging concept of ‘human security’ and its potential application to the needs of the Union and its membership. The central research questions start by considering the Australian trade union movement’s focus on ‘job security’, before asking whether ‘human security’ represents an evolutionary move that is worthy of their consideration. Subsequent questions examine the Federal Government’s view of globalisation, as a ‘top-down’ approach, and the relationship between trade, security, and ‘the national interest’, before considering the merits of constructing a ‘bottom-up’ approach from the base of civil society, through bodies such as unions. Human security, as a recent addition to security thinking, seeks to empower ‘ordinary’ people as active actors in their quest for ‘real’ security, as they seek freedom from both ‘fear’ and ‘want’. This reverses the Realist tradition that demands security be derived ‘from above’, organised within the realm of sovereign states as they fulfil their task of protecting ‘the national interest’. Emerging post-Cold War, human security has been used to argue that the Realist approach to security, involving balance-of-power mechanisms, may be usurped by a more holistic approach. One that invests people as central actors rather than states, favouring individuals above the territorial entities they inhabit. The current phase of globalisation poses various challenges to states’ security, as the physical bordersecurity erodes through technological advance, and new modes of business. The proposed Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (FTA) carries both potential benefits and disruptions to the lives of ordinary Australians. But, the debate is unbalanced, largely flowing downwards from the international sphere to individuals below. Alternatives generated within civil society struggle for legitimacy, failing the dominant ‘commonsense’ paradigm, as the current hegemony ensures that the most powerful tools in the ‘toolbox of power’ are held firmly in the grip of those better positioned to dictate policies. The search for a new definition of human security faltered, as research revealed a lower level of awareness in issues further removed from the firefighter’s control. From this finding emerged a web-based self-education research tool, and later, a simple pictorial tool, the ‘Orbits of Security’. Both instruments were inspired by Gramsci’s notion of ‘cultural hegemony’. Both are intended to show the UFUQ membership how, through education, they can begin to assert greater ownership over their personal human security ‘orbit’ by comprehending the nature of ‘cultural hegemony’. The study concludes by arguing that the rightful place of ‘ordinary people’ is at society’s core, not at the periphery. In this way, ‘human security’ becomes a useful counter-hegemonic tool for the UFUQ, and a valuable addition to their ‘toolbox of power’.


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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Master of Arts (Asian Studies) thesis.
Depositing User: epEditor USQ
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - No Department
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2007 01:22
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 22:50
Uncontrolled Keywords: United Firefighters’ Union; Queensland Branch; UFUQ; human security
Fields of Research (FOR2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1602 Criminology > 160206 Private Policing and Security Services
16 Studies in Human Society > 1602 Criminology > 160201 Causes and Prevention of Crime
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/3205

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