A Limitation of Ontological Security-Seeking Assumptions in Kurdistan: Is Human Plurality a Viable Aim for Constructivism?

Melissa Zeba Patel, Fordham University


I challenge available and mainstream constructivist theory by advocating that "uncertainty" and similarly subjugated components of traditional value-oppositions in Western metaphysics are potentially useful for advancing constructivism by helping it avoid dormant and oppressive descriptions of world politics. I focus on constructivist assumptions of agent-structure theorization through ontological security-seeking assumptions (security of the self) appropriated from sociologist, Anthony Giddens, and extrapolated from an individual to state level by Jennifer Mitzen in Ontological Security in World Politics: State Identity and the Security Dilemma and to a lesser extent, I draw from other constructivist extrapolations by Brent J. Steele and Alexander Wendt. This paper argues that ontological-security assumptions are not necessarily beneficial for actors by contending that its value system is flawed and counterintuitive for constructivism and humanity's future. More specifically, this paper challenges the static treatment of agent-structure interaction implicit in "ontological-security seeking" assumptions to uncover the potential for a different, anxious, and insecure mode of identity, learning, and experience as a means towards organic growth, micro-political resistance, (and ultimately, human plurality) for individual and state level actors. I argue here that the static view of agent-structure interaction can be oppressive and unfounded both empirically and theoretically given its unwitting liberal interpellation of "subjectivity" and related agent-specific categorizations and descriptions that function to aggrandize the modern Weltanschauung and its subordinate and ancillary world-views of humanism, rationality, liberalism, and the like, which reinforces modernity's Eurocentric reign. I do this in the context of Kurdish claims for sovereignty in the aftermath of Arab Spring.

Subject Area

Political science

Recommended Citation

Patel, Melissa Zeba, "A Limitation of Ontological Security-Seeking Assumptions in Kurdistan: Is Human Plurality a Viable Aim for Constructivism?" (2014). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI10185194.