Introduction within communities. Crucially, this is not a


            Although a fairly recently
developed field, ontological security theory has remained limited to a more
limited and historical understanding of world affairs as nation-state centric.
Applying a theory crafted with the individual and self-identity in mind to a
regional perspective that necessitates collective identity highlights
interesting tensions between the two.

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Ontological Security

            In contrast with the more
traditional association of security as physical security, ontological security
refers to the more subjective sense of who one is and self-identity (Mitzen
2006: __). Originally a rooted in psychology and philosophy, Giddens first
adapted the theory to address socio-political questions by arguing ontological
security as both confidence and trust that the world is as it is assumed by one
to be, including their sense of self and social identity (Giddens 1984: 375). The
stability of self-identity is constantly under attack by existential anxieties,
and individuals must learn to manage them in order to guarantee security. Often,
individuals must sacrifice their physical security in order to maintain
ontological security, despite being seemingly irrational. This is especially the
case if engaging in destructive behavior is itself a practice that supports
their self-identity (Steele 2008: __). Seekers of ontological security must be
political actors, in that ontological security seeking is a political process requiring
decision making and formation of relationships with others to reflexively
secure self-identity. In international relations the state is assumed the ontological
security seeking actor, as they have the necessary political agency and authority




Identity and Self- Identity and
Routines: First, regarding the ontological security literature,
I put the emphasis on understanding the intersubjective process of routinising
self–other relations. This process involves struggles for recognition that
occur not only between but also within communities. Crucially, this is not a
one- time event, but an ongoing political process, represented in changing
expectations of behaviour over time

            Foundational to this understanding of
ontological security is a concept of identity. Identity is much more a process
than something attainable, it is ‘something one does’ (Jenkins 2008: 5). It
takes into account knowledge of ourselves and about the world to justify and
reason out actions that we and others take. However, self-identity is more
personally understood in relation to the one’s own personal biography (Giddens
1991: 53). Additionally, actors are not constantly actively engaging in the
process of identifying as something. Through routinization, identities become unconscious
and habitually enacted. They are a ingrained as part of ourselves and our
understanding of the world and of ourselves; they control our actions without
us needing to be given instructions. In fact, becoming aware of or reflecting
on our routines may bring about anxieties as it disrupts the natural assumed
flow of our actions and thoughts (Giddens 1991: 39). These habits must be
created, and the initial adaptation of a new routine is momentarily jarring,
although ultimately sacrificing ontological security in the short term is
beneficial in the long term. New habits are always being formed in response to
socio-political stimuli, and the process of identity formation is never-ending.
Complete ontological security can never be achieved because of this.

            – In shifting the perspective away
from the nation state and towards regions, we must establish if collective
groups still seek ontological security the same as individuals. For people,
ontological security seeking is motivated by a psychological desire to avoid
existential anxieties. The state is subject to similar desires, as it is
steered by representatives with the same goals. However, collective groups do
not have emotional impulses or fears. Instead, the identity of collectives is
solely predicated on subconscious identification and routinization of its
members. Thus, a group’s ontological security seeking is aimed at preserving
these taken-for-granted institutional structures and practices that compose it.
Threats to established practices or identities based in the collective would
require a change in routine to address these issues. Members would have to
rethink routinized relations with other members and they too would then
experience individual level anxiety and emotional distress.

and Society: This regional consideration highlights an interesting irony within
ontological security. The process of securing ones identity is, by nature, selfish,
yet it ironically requires social interaction with other actors in order for
create the necessary routinized relations that assure its success. The
distinctive self-identity relies on others to come about. Steele (2008: 59)
warns against putting too much emphasis on social

Regional Identity: 


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