Ontological security

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Ontological security is a stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity in regard to the events in one's life. Giddens (1991) refers to ontological security as a sense of order and continuity in regard to an individual’s experiences. He argues that this is reliant on people’s ability to give meaning to their lives. Meaning is found in experiencing positive and stable emotions, and by avoiding chaos and anxiety (ibid; Elias, 1985). If an event occurs that is not consistent with the meaning of an individual's life, this will threaten that individual's ontological security. Ontological security also involves having a positive view of self, the world and the future.

Ontological Security Threatened by Death[edit]

Philip A. Mellor talks about this concept in regard to thanatology, arguing that when death strikes, it causes people to “question the meaningfulness and reality of the social frameworks in which they participate, shattering their ontological security” (1993, p13).

Ontological Security Associated With Home Ownership[edit]

"It has been said that people need the confidence, continuity and trust in the world which comprise ontological security in order to lead happy and fulfilled lives, and furthermore that ontological security can be attained more through owner occupied than rented housing.".[1]

Ontological Security of Children[edit]

Children are more likely to have a positive ontological security when the child's parents own their own home.[2] Reportedly, home ownership also improves parenting and allows for a future transfer of assets, thus facilitating ontological security.

Ontological Security in Adult Learners[edit]

"Adult educators also must secure the learners’ ontological security against existential anxieties by associating learners’ network and groups based on trust".[3]

See also[edit]


  • Ronald David Laing Self and Others, 1961. OCLC 495474118
  • Definition: A stable mental state derived from a sense of continuity and order in events. (Tony Bilton et al., Introductory Sociology, 3rd edition. London, Macmillan, 1996, p665)


  1. ^ Hiscock, R. (2013-07-04). "Ontological security and psychosocial benefits from the home: qualitative evidence on issues of tenure". Housing, Theory and Society (Taylor & Francis) 18 (1-2). ISSN 1403-6096. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 
  2. ^ Edward Scanlon, Deborah Page-Adams. Homeownership and Youth Well-Being: An Empirical Test of Asset-Based Welfare(archive), Inclusion in Asset Building: Research Policy Symposium , 2000, Center for Social Development. page 2: "Peter Saunders (1978; 1990) refers to this control of housing space as 'ontological security'. This increased sense of control might lead to child well-being through increased capacities to parent effectively (Green & White, 1997)"
  3. ^ "The Essential Conditions for Reflective Learning Based on “Ontological Security”". Bulletin of Adult and Continuing Education (National Taiwan Normal University) (31): 185 – 206. Retrieved 2013-07-16. 

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