Role Conceptions and the Politics of Identity in Foreign Policy

This papers applies role conceptions as conceptual device to show how differing national identities in Britain, Germany and France lead to contrasting foreign policies in a post-Cold-War setting.

ARENA Working Paper 08/1999 (html)

Lisbeth Aggestam

Although most scholars would agree that identity matters as psychological reference in international relations, there is little consensus as to how the linkage between identity and foreign policy could be operationalised. Questions of identity received increased attention with the end of the Cold-War bipolar division of Europe. This paper is concerned with the analysis of stability and change in this milieu, focusing on how actors interpret and perceive their respective national roles in this new, more complicated and unfamiliar setting. Role conception is indeed the concept applied here to operationalise or ‘bridge’ perceptions of identity, on the one hand, with foreign policy behaviour on the other. The source material applied consists of foreign policy speeches, documents and interviews. The intention is to compare role statements from three states: Britain, France and Germany.

Tags: Germany, France, international relations, role conceptions, identity, U.K.
Published Nov. 9, 2010 10:52 AM