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Accepted Paper:

When the lights go out. Mobilizing Blackout preparedness  
Alexandra Schwell (University of Klagenfurt)

Paper short abstract:

The paper scrutinizes the Austrian blackout campaign, which asks citizens to prepare for "Day X". It explores how state agencies and political actors create a sense of urgency and engage citizens in an emotional regime that reifies the citizen-state-relationship through a process of securitization.

Paper long abstract:

In 2022, the Austrian state launched a nationwide blackout preparedness campaign asking citizens to prepare for Day X, "when the lights go out". The paper explores how Austrian government agencies sensitize the population to the severity of the threat of a Europe-wide blackout – a population weary of the pandemic but having grown used and sensitive to stockpiling.

The paper scrutinises how the concept of urgency informs blackout disaster scenarios and public campaigns. For security scholars, urgency is a pivotal yet so far under-researched concept. Urgency is an essential element of securitization processes that present imagined threats as imminent. As a political practice, it is crucial for the mobilization of insecurities and fears. The urgency of a problem is formulated in the present but contains projections for a potentially apocalyptic future scenario. At the same time, the invocation of urgency is linked to the hope of a better future if the disaster can be averted in the present.

Studying the blackout campaign and its agents, the paper links the concepts of urgency to the study of emotions and temporality. It analyses how the Austrian state aims at convincing its citizens not only of the urgency of blackout preparation but also how it uses urgency to create a shared responsibility between state and citizen. It combines state, national, and individual security in emotional politics, thus creating the subject of the "resilient citizen".

Panel P166a
(In)Security - What's the State Got to Do with it? [ASN]
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -