Ontological Security and the Limits of Realism and Neo-Realism


Ontological Security as an International Relations theory is not yet able to carry the same weight within the discipline as established theories, such as realism and neo-realism. This is due to the limited number of papers written which apply ontological security in comparison to mainstream theories. However, the theory is relevant in contemporary international relations scholarship and addresses some of the challenges which arise in existing mainstream theories. Ontological security in International Relations is focused on the idea that the identity of the state, which has been developed by routine behaviours throughout the state’s history, should be secured to the same extent as physical security. This can be directly contrasted to realism which considers that it is only physical security which should be considered. This paper is theoretical in nature. It seeks to review existing academic contributions with the aim of providing justification for the continued application of ontological security to contemporary challenges in international relations. The theory is especially adept at addressing challenges within interstate relations in the context of the Asia–Pacific region. The paper will begin with a discussion of realism, neo-realism and critiques of these theories. This will be followed by an exploration of ontological security and how it addresses some of the key challenges of pre-existing theories as well as noting potential criticisms that could be levelled against ontological security. The paper will then provide examples of how ontological security is applicable to Asia-Pacific international relations.

Author Information
Helen Sellers

Paper Information
Conference: APSec2016
Stream: International Relations Theory

This paper is part of the APSec2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon