The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Understanding Human Security

31 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2011

See all articles by Ronald F. Inglehart

Ronald F. Inglehart

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR)

Pippa Norris

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS); University of Sydney

Date Written: October 13, 2011


Since the end of the Cold War, security studies have broadened to take into account a wide range of non-military threats ranging from poverty to environmental concerns rather than just national defense. Security scholars, backed by international organizations and a growing number of national governments, have developed the concept of Human Security, focusing on the welfare of ordinary people against a broad range of threats. This has aroused vigorous debate. Part I of this paper proposes an analytical model of Human Security. Part II argues that it is important to measure how ordinary people perceive risks, moving beyond state-centric notions of Human Security. We examine new evidence, drawing upon survey items specially designed to monitor perceptions of Human Security, included for the first time in the 6th wave of the World Values Survey (WVS), with fieldwork conducted in 2010-2012. Part III demonstrates that people distinguish three dimensions: national, community, and personal security and then explores some structural determinants driving these perceptions. Part IV discusses why perceptions of Human Security matter, in particular for explaining cultural values and value change around the world. The conclusion argues that the shift from a narrow focus on military security toward the broader concept of Human Security is a natural response to the changing challenges facing developed societies, in which the cost-benefit ratio concerning war has become negative and cultural changes have made war less acceptable. In this setting, valid measures of perceptions of Human Security have become essential, both to understand the determinants of Human Security among ordinary people, and to analyze their consequences.

Keywords: human security, human rights

Suggested Citation

Inglehart, Ronald F. and Norris, Pippa, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: Understanding Human Security (October 13, 2011). HKS Working Paper No. RWP11-039. Available at SSRN: or

Ronald F. Inglehart (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Institute for Social Research (ISR) ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248
United States

Pippa Norris

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-1475 (Phone)
617-496-2850 (Fax)

University of Sydney ( email )

University of Sydney
Sydney, NC NSW 2006

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