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Foreign Policy and the Social Construction of State Identity

Paul A. Kowert

Subject International Studies » Foreign Policy Analysis

Key-Topics agency, constructivism, identity, nation, social norms, state

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444336597.2010.x


Comment on this article   Well before structural realism provoked a division between scholars interested in the foreign policy making process and those who focused instead on systemic exigencies, the roots of constructivist foreign policy analysis were laid in phenomenological accounts of international relations. Scholars had already begun to challenge the tendency to view states and their behavior in material terms ( Leites 1951 ). They held agent perceptions of the world, and of available alternatives for action within it, to be socially and normatively constrained ( Snyder et al. 1962 ; Jervis 1976 ). And they recognized that agents viewed one another in different ways, effectively assigning a variety of identities to their counterparts ( Boulding 1956 ). In a sense, constructivist research thus predates the constructivist label ( Houghton 2007 ). As both intellectual predisposition and scholarly framework, moreover, constructivism is polymorphous. It spans many disciplines, particularly though not exclusively within the social sciences, and multiple perspectives within each discipline ( Riegler 2005 ). Common themes link many of these perspectives ( Guzzini 2000 ; Kukla 2000 ; Onuf 2002 ), but sorting through contending accounts of constructivism is a task for another essay. As applied empirically to foreign policy analysis, constructivism has called for particular attention ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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