Critical situations, fundamental questions and ontological insecurity in world politics

Filip Ejdus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
715 Downloads (Pure)


The central premise of ontological security theory is that states are ready to compromise their physical security and other important material gains in order to protect their ontological security. While the existing studies have primarily focused on how states defend or maintain their ontological security, little attention has been paid to critical situations that make states ontologically insecure in the first place. Drawing on the work of Anthony Giddens, I conceptualise critical situations in world politics as radical disjunctions that challenge the ability of collective actors to ‘go on’ by bringing into the realm of discursive consciousness four fundamental questions related to existence, finitude, relations and autobiography. The argument is illustrated in a case study of ontological insecurity produced in Serbia by the secession of Kosovo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)883-908
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number4
Early online date9 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • ontological security
  • critical situations
  • fundamental questions
  • discourse
  • Serbia
  • Kosovo

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