The central assertion of this book is that states pursue social
actions to serve self-identity needs, even when these actions
compromise their physical existence. Three forms of social action,
sometimes referred to as motives of state behaviour (moral,
humanitarian, and honour-driven) are analyzed here through an
ontological security approach.
Brent J. Steele develops an account of social action which
interprets these behaviours as fulfilling a nation-state's drive to
secure self-identity through time. The anxiety which consumes all
social agents motivates them to secure their sense of being, and
thus he posits that transformational possibilities exist in the
Self of a nation-state. The volume consequently both challenges and
complements realist, liberal, constructivist and post-structural
accounts to international politics.
Using ontological security to interpret three cases - British
neutrality during the American Civil War (1861-1865), Belgium s
decision to fight Germany in 1914, and NATO s (1999) Kosovo
intervention - the book concludes by discussing the importance for
self-interrogation in both the study and practice of international
Ontological Security in International Relations will be of
particular interest to students and researchers of international
politics, international ethics, international relations and
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