This article outlines three ways of analysing the ‘politics of securitization’, emphasizing an often-overlooked form of politics practised through theory design. The structure and nature of a theory can have systematic political implications. Analysis of this ‘politics of securitization’ is distinct from both the study of political practices of securitization and explorations of competing concepts of politics among security theories. It means tracking what kinds of analysis the theory can produce and whether such analysis systematically impacts real-life political struggles. Securitization theory is found to ‘act politically’ through three structural features that systematically shape the political effects of using the theory. The article further discusses – on the basis of the preceding articles in the special issue – three emerging debates around securitization theory: ethics, transformations and post-Western analyses. The article finally suggests one possible way forward for securitization theory: a route built on first clarifying its concept of theory, then specifying more clearly the place of political theory and causal mechanisms in different parts of the analysis. The politics of securitization accordingly becomes sharpened. Instead of deducing the political quality of the theory from various empirical statements by its proponents, this approach zooms in on the very core of the theory: how does it structurally condition work done with it in systematically political ways?