Collective Discussion: Toward Critical Approaches to Intelligence as a Social Phenomenon

Hager Ben Jaffel*, Alvina Hoffmann, Oliver Kearns, Sebastian Larsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
140 Downloads (Pure)


This collective discussion proposes a novel understanding of intelligence as a social phenomenon, taking place in a social space that increasingly involves actors and professional fields not immediately seen as part of intelligence. This discussion is a response to the inherent functionalism in Intelligence Studies (IS) that conceives of intelligence as a cycle serving policymakers. Instead, our interventions seek to problematize and break with this notion of the cycle and show what an alternative study of intelligence would look like. In the first part of the discussion, we situate our intervention in the broader fields of IS and International Political Sociology. Espousing a transdisciplinary approach, we build our four interventions as transversal lines cutting through a social space in which agents with differing stakes participate and reframe the meaning and practice of intelligence. Intelligence professionals not only have to reckon with policymakers, but also increasingly with law enforcement agents, representatives from the science and technology sector, judges, lawyers, activists, and Internet users themselves. Each move takes a step further away from the intelligence cycle by introducing new empirical sites, actors, and stakes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberolaa015
Pages (from-to)323-344
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Political Sociology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2020

Structured keywords

  • SPAIS Global Insecurities Centre


Dive into the research topics of 'Collective Discussion: Toward Critical Approaches to Intelligence as a Social Phenomenon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this