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Title: Identity maintenance & foreign policy decision-making : the quest for ontological security in the DPRK
Author: Bolton, Derek
ISNI:       0000 0004 7432 6441
Awarding Body: University of Bath
Current Institution: University of Bath
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis analyzes how the need for ontological security (OS), the ‘security of being’,impacts the foreign policy decision-making of states. Traditional security studies focus primarily on physical threats to the state. By contrast, an OS framework argues individuals feel secure when they are able to maintain communal narrative. This narrative in turn becomes the lens through which policymakers, and thus states, analyze events, while also becoming a potential source of conflict if challenged. Therefore, while physical security is still important, one is better positioned to account for perceptions of physical (and non physical) threats, and subsequent policies seemingly contradictory to traditional security studies, by employing an OS framework. While this will be explored within the context of the DPRK, the applicability of such a framework is far greater, holding key insights for International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA). DPRK narrative formed out of the postcolonial nationalism of Japanese occupation, culminating into the hyper-nationalist ideology of Juche. North Korea’s seemingly ‘abnormal’ behavior might in turn be indicative of its unique national narrative and history of colonization and humiliation, leading to a different set of behavioral expectations than states whose narratives do not encompass such stories or reference points. While not all states are expected to act in the same manner as North Korea, the framework would expect them to defend and promote their respective national narratives. Moreover, while narratives can double as sources of legitimacy, as seen increasingly in the DPRK, this in no way detracts from, and merely compounds, the emphasis on narrative maintenance. Examining the historical record, it is argued the OS framework is consistently better at accounting for DPRK policies than traditional security studies. Therefore, more broadly in FPA, by taking seriously group narrative as a key component of OS, one can better account for perceptions and foreign policy decision-making.
Supervisor: Thomas, Scott Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Identity ; security studies ; ontological security ; international relations theory ; Foreign Policy Analysis ; North Korea