The concept of human security continues to defy definitional clarity at the same time as it is being embraced by policymakers. This article proposes a practice-grounded approach that focuses on investigative method as a way of linking conceptual understanding of human security to the research process. Probing the 'actorness' of individuals in volatile contexts, a study of insecurity in Kosovo shows how dialogue can be applied as a research tool to access and assess human security in the field. Dialogue permits recognition of the power of the researched in the construction of knowledge of security, and accordingly reflects the conceptual shift represented by human security from states to communities and individuals. In the Kosovo study, dialogic research captured individual agency in the face of pervasive insecurity and revealed contradictory effects of such agency. This led to the formulation of the idea of the multidirectional security marker as a means of understanding experiences of insecurity in relation to strategies to combat it. Three such markers - self-reliance, informality and community solidarity - emerged and are analysed in the case of Kosovo. Simultaneously denoting restrictions on people's security and possibilities for overcoming those very same limitations, the markers express the agential dimension of human security and show how agency and security interact
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