Marketing Militarism in the Digital Age: Arms Production, YouTube and Selling ‘National Security’

Dr Susan Jackson uses a blended approach to locate the potential contribution of the arms industry's YouTube promotional videos to militarization in the everyday.


With social media already influencing the functioning of the national security state in both domestic and international relations and in terms of state-society relations and given the integral part the military plays in many (most?) definitions of national security and the importance of national security to mainstream IR, research that addresses the intersection between social media and militarization is both timely and vital. Further, as powerful actors in the global political economy, the arms-producing companies and related entities that comprise the arms industry remain an understudied element in International Relations (IR). Among other things, the arms industry has direct access to those who decide on whether and what weapons to build and on how to formulate related domestic and foreign policies. However, these decisions do not happen in a vacuum nor are they stand alone events. Rather, we need to interrogate the place of the arms industry in perpetuating the role of the military in societies around the world, i.e., the ways in which the arms industry contributes to militarization. In this paper, I examine the intersection of arms producers with the everyday production of cultural digital artefacts that promote military values in civilian life. In particular I ask: How does the world’s leading arms producers’ corporate branding via social media reflect, and thereby contribute to, the conventional view that national security is military security (i.e., how do these corporations contribute to militarization)? I use a blended approach (quantitative content analysis with a discursive analytical element) to locate the potential contribution of the arms industry's YouTube promotional videos to militarization in the everyday.


Dr Susan Jackson

Susan is a Researcher at Malmö University College and heads the Militarization 2.0 project. Her primary focus is on the linkages between the global political economy and militarization/securitization with an emphasis on the role of corporations and industry actors. She has extensive training in quantitative methods and mixed methodological perspectives. Prior to joining Malmö, Susan was head of the Arms Production Project at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). She has published on the marketing of militarism and on arms industry trade exceptions as part of state identity formation, and she has a forthcoming chapter on the marketing of national security through industry-produced promotional videos posted on YouTube.

PhD and MA researchers are encouraged to attend.


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There will be an opportunity for networking after the talk.