ARENA Working Papers
WP 99/24



Why Comply? Constructivism, Social Norms and the Study of International Institutions*

Jeffrey T. Checkel**


Constructivists need a theory of social choice. While these scholars have been good at exploring the macro-foundations of politics and state behavior -- rules, norms, culture, political discourse -- less attention has been paid to underlying causal mechanisms of choice, that is, how agents take action within these structures. The result has been a micro-, process-, decisionmaking- gap in all too many studies. I address this lacuna, specifically asking why actors abide by the norms embedded in regimes and international institutions. To date, scholars have proposed two, competing answers to this compliance puzzle. On the one hand, regime theorists and students of international bargaining emphasize instrumental motives and material factors, while neglecting the social and interaction contexts of compliance; on the other, constructivists stress the role of social structures in compliance decisions, while failing to develop a robust and multi-faceted theory of agency. Both schools might thus benefit from greater dialogue; to this end, I suggest how a focus on argumentative persuasion and social learning not only theorizes the agency/interaction nexus in a more meaningful manner, but also broadens, empirically, our understanding of why social actors comply. These insights are illustrated by exploring why state agents comply with norms promoted by the European human rights regime


Constructivists need a theory of social choice. While these scholars have been good at theorizing and exploring the macro-foundations of politics and state behavior -- rules, roles, norms, culture, political discourse -- less attention has been paid to underlying causal mechanisms of choice, that is, how agents take action within these structures. The result has been a micro-, process-, decisionmaking- gap in all too many studies. [1]

Below, I address this lacuna, asking why actors abide by the norms embedded in regimes and international institutions. To date, scholars have proposed two, largely competing answers to this compliance puzzle. On the one hand, regime theorists and students of international bargaining emphasize material factors and instrumental motives, while neglecting the social and interaction contexts of compliance; on the other, constructivists stress the role of social structures in compliance decisions, while failing to develop a robust and multi-faceted theory of agency. Both schools might thus benefit from greater dialogue.

To this end, my core argument is synthetic, seeking better to specify “switching points” for when compliance with norms is better explained by rationalist or constructivist toolkits. I argue that it is not the causal weight accorded social structures that distinguishes these approaches, but the underlying choice mechanisms they posit: cost/benefit calculations for rationalists and learning/socialization for constructivists. From an empirical perspective, however, it is absurd to portray these in “either/or” terms; each captures and explains important elements of the compliance process. Greater attention to institutional and historical variables will help scholars disentangle these mechanisms -- rendering them more complementary than competing. [2]

The analysis proceeds in the following manner. I begin by briefly reviewing both the regime/bargaining and constructivist literatures, focusing on the causal mechanisms each adduces for explaining norm compliance. Regime and bargaining theorists, and, more surprisingly, constructivists have been largely silent on how social interaction may influence compliance decisions. In the second and third sections, I address this gap, advancing hypotheses on the roles of social learning and persuasion in compliance, and exploring the methodological challenges involved in measuring them. These hypotheses help theorize the agency/interaction nexus in a more meaningful manner, thus broadening our understanding of why social actors comply. In keeping with my synthetic approach, the paper’s empirical sections then provide evidence of both rationalist and constructivist compliance mechanisms at work in three quite different institutional settings: Strasbourg (supra-national norm creation/compliance), Germany (national norm compliance in an “old” pluralist democracy) and Ukraine (national norm compliance in a “new” transition state). The conclusion suggests how my analysis advances the constructivist research agenda, highlights the importance of institutional factors in compliance studies, and argues for greater attention to the development of scope conditions in the debate between rationalists and social constructivists.

Before proceeding, three caveats are in order. First, the constructivism favored in this essay belongs to what has been called its modernist branch. These scholars combine an ontological stance critical of methodological individualism with a loosely causal epistemology; analytically, they have focused on the role of norms in social life, demonstrating they matter in a constitutive, interest-shaping way not captured by rationalist arguments. Given my empirically informed hunch that compliance sometimes involves such interest redefinition, this more recent work should prove useful. [3]

Second, my analytic focus here and dependent variable is “compliance” -- to what extent agents act in accordance with, and fulfilment of the prescriptions contained in international rules and norms -- and not “socialization.” While the latter term has been favored in recent studies by constructivists, it is problematic in one important respect: Students of political socialization typically emphasize its endpoint, that is, the internalization of values and norms. Such an emphasis leads one too readily to bracket the intervening processes of social interaction through which agents reach such an end state. In contrast, compliance research focuses centrally on such processes: coercion and sanctions, cost/benefit calculations and persuasion, among others. Consistent with these differences in analytic emphasis are temporal ones: Constructivist studies of socialization often encompass many years or even decades, while regime compliance research is typically more temporally limited. [4]

When studying compliance -- and to minimize reliance on correlational arguments -- I consider not only the observable degree of it among particular agents, but also explore the (changing) motives and attitudes that lead them to act in accordance with normative prescriptions. Put differently, speech and language, in contrast to much mainstream compliance research, will play central roles in my analysis. [5]

Third, the essay’s main focus is theoretical and methodological, and not empirical. The concern is how one could develop, and apply to studies of compliance, constructivist insights on mechanisms of social choice. Empirically, I seek only to establish the plausibility of such propositions, and do so in three ways: (1) by drawing upon arguments and evidence from existing studies; (2) by reference to my own work in progress; and (3) where appropriate, by conducting counterfactual analysis.

Why Do Social Actors Comply?

My purpose in the following two sub-sections is not to provide a detailed review and classification of the regime/bargaining or constructivist literatures; several excellent surveys are available for that purpose. Instead, the focus is the underlying assumptions and theories of choice upon which these scholars build explanations of compliance. [6]

Regime Theory, International Bargaining and Compliance. Much like the broader subfield (international relations theory) and discipline (political science) to which they belong, regime scholars privilege an asocial methodological individualism and consequentialist choice mechanisms in their studies. While analysts may employ differing labels -- neo-utilitarian, contractualist, interest-based, etc -- to describe the process through which actors comply with regime injunctions, a common set of assumptions unites them. For one, compliance is a game of altering strategies and behavior (which, admittedly, is sometimes all important); in a fundamental sense, then, agents leave a regime (or its institutional home) as they entered it. The underlying ontology is thus decidedly individualist.

Moreover, integrated with this ontology is a view of the choice mechanism behind compliance decisions as an exercise in cost/benefit calculation -- be it in response to putative regime benefits or the threat of sanctions. Not surprisingly, these biases lead many scholars to bracket or downplay the role of language and communication (at least in meaningful ways that go beyond notions of “cheap talk”) and to erect a black box around the interaction context from which decisions to comply emerge. [7]

It is true that much of the international bargaining literature, which partly overlaps with the regime work, has always accorded a central role to “interaction.” However, for the most part, the interaction that leads to compliance is again understood as strategic exchange among egoistic, self-interested actors. Materialism, in the form of power resources, also typically looms large in such analyses: Faced with (material) brute facts, bargaining agents make choices -- decide whether or not to comply -- on the basis of cost/benefit calculations. No one would deny that such research captures an important part of empirical reality, especially if one examines, as many analysts do, coercive international bargaining. [8]

For sure, there has always been a lively dissenting view to these dominant perspectives within both the regime and bargaining literatures. On the former, starting with Ernie Haas’s early work on international organization, a smaller group of regime compliance scholars -- often called “cognitivists” -- has been concerned with what constructivists would term the mutually constitutive and non-strategic bases of social interaction. Allusions to learning, internalization and persuasion -- buzzwords to which any constructivist could subscribe -- as the dynamics producing compliance are strong in this research. Indeed, Haas and his students (Ruggie, Adler) have consistently argued that agents do not only and always power; they also puzzle. As a result, the strategies and, perhaps, underlying preferences of these agents are in flux; they are thus open to learning. Put differently, compliance occurs through interest/identity redefinition. [9]

In the bargaining literature, recent work has begun to stress that compliance decisions of agents cannot be fully understood without consideration of background social context and contemporaneous -- during the negotiations themselves -- social interaction. This trend within IR intersects with a long-running tradition among scholars of the European Union (EU), many of whom emphasize the non-strategic and socially constructed bases of compliance, be it in Brussels or at the national level. [10]

These are valid arguments, and seem to capture an important part of the reality of compliance dynamics -- internationally or within Europe. However, they have most often been advanced as a heuristic claim, with key terms consequently underspecified. This means that tough issues of empirical operationalization (how would I know learning when I saw it) and the development of scope/boundary conditions (when, under what conditions will persuasion be central for explaining compliance, etc) have for the most part been avoided. [11]

In sum, rationalist regime compliance and bargaining scholars possess vigorous research programs that have yielded cumulable insights on compliance dynamics. Unfortunately, their explanatory reach is limited by a restrictive set of ontological assumptions. A second set of regime and bargaining analysts relaxes these assumptions, but has failed to generate robust empirical findings of its own. Overall, then, among students of regime compliance and bargaining, there is a dominant answer to the question of why social actors comply: strategic calculation.

Constructivism and Compliance. Early empirical research by constructivists did not explicitly ask why actors comply with social norms. Instead, their focus was often later stages of compliance, where internalization (full socialization) had almost occurred; this led many scholars to bracket the processes through which this end state was reached. At this late stage, however, compliance is not an issue of choice in any meaningful sense; agent behavior is rule governed and driven by certain logics of appropriateness. The result was a somewhat static portrayal of social interaction, coupled to correlational and structural arguments built on “as if” assumptions at the level of agents. [12]

More recent constructivist studies rectify these problems by placing greater emphasis on both process and agency. In fact, these scholars have identified two causal mechanisms through which social actors come to comply with normative prescriptions: social protest/mobilization and social learning. The protest/mobilization mechanism comes in two variants. A first argues that domestic actors such as NGOs, trade unions or the like exploit international norms to generate pressures for compliance on state decisionmakers, and do so in relative isolation from broader transnational ties. Here, empirical examples are typically drawn from the industrialized West, with the argument apparently being that these well established and, in some cases, militarily powerful states are less susceptible to transnational pressures. [13]

Recently, a more sophisticated variant of the protest dynamic has been elaborated. In this case, non-state actors and policy networks, at both the national and transnational level, are united in their support for norms; they then mobilize and coerce decisionmakers to comply with them. The norms themselves, however, are often not internalized by elites. The activities of Greenpeace exemplify this political pressure mechanism. [14]

At the agent/micro-level, how does this protest dynamic explain compliance? For elites, the answer seems clear: Norms are simply a behavioral constraint and not internalized. Their compliance is easily explained by standard rationalist models, which view social structures in this behavioral, constraining sense. At the grass-roots, activist, NGO-level, systematic explanations for compliance are much less clear. In some cases, norms seem genuinely to constitute these agents in the sense meant by constructivists, providing actors with new understandings of interest/identity. However, in many other instances, norms produce compliance in ways better captured by rationalist arguments -- for example, by creating focal points in the domestic arena, or simply being used instrumentally by agents (NGOs, say) to advance given interests. [15]

The implicit methodological individualism and consequentialist theory of choice that underlay many of these constructivist mobilization/protest accounts suggest linkages to the rationalist regime compliance and bargaining literatures. While not using the same terminology, constructivists have thus documented how compliance -- especially at the elite level -- is a game of cost/benefit analysis, with the diffusion of new social norms changing such calculations. Put differently, these scholars, like many regime and bargaining theorists, emphasize the role of sanctioning in promoting compliance. For sure, the sanctioning force (a social norm) and the mechanism (NGO shaming, say) are different, but the behavioral logics and choice mechanisms appear quite similar; one might thus call it “social sanctioning.”

Related to these last points, constructivist work on the social mobilization/compliance dynamic contains a three-fold bias against the state and state decisionmakers. Normatively, elite policymakers are portrayed as bad; empirically, they are viewed as passive and reactive; ontologically, they are too often viewed solely as calculating agents. Consider the recent Risse, Ropp and Sikkink volume that explores the connection between international human rights norms and patterns of domestic compliance. Their starting point is the “boomerang” model elaborated by Keck and Sikkink, whereby recalcitrant state elites are caught in a vise of transnational and domestic social mobilization. Here, the preferences of elites do not change at early stages; rather, compliance occurs through changes in behaviors and strategies only. Temporally expanding the model, Risse, et al, argue that at later points in the process (perhaps five years to a decade), elites become less reactive and, indeed, may comply because they have internalized new preferences. While, analytically, this is an important step forward, it is unclear why state decisionmakers get to play this (more intelligent) role only after an initial “softening up” by networks and activists. [16]

Why these biases? A particular theoretical/disciplinary move by modernist constructivists and their subsequent choice of issue area seem key. On the former, recent years have seen an exciting fusion of two literatures: studies on the diffusion of global norms by constructivists; and work on social movements that sits at the intersection of sociology and political science. This synthesis allowed constructivists to explain better the mobilization dynamics they saw norms (and other social constructs) generating in various settings; more important, thanks to the strong emphasis on agency in the social movements literature (SML), it promoted a greater theoretical balance between structure and agency in their accounts. [17]

This inter-disciplinary exchange had costs, however. First, constructivists have ended up incorporating in their accounts the individualist ontologies and consequentialist choice mechanisms that play central roles in SML. My claim is not that these scholars now portray agents as only pursuing material interests. (Although, this may be true in some cases.) Rather, I am suggesting that much of the behavioral logic in recent constructivist/SML work is consistent with so-called “thin” rationalism, where the goals pursued may be non-material (normative values, say), but the underlying choice mechanism is consequentialist -- means-ends -- in nature. [18]

This characterization, it should be noted, is apparently shared and endorsed by several prominent constructivist theorists, who now speak of “strategic social construction.” Here, agents make detailed means-ends calculations, maximize utility, and -- reflecting their own normative commitments -- seek to change the utility of others. By itself, this is absolutely no problem; however, it has made less clear what is the constructivist value added in such individualist-consequentialist compliance accounts. Indeed, the modernist constructivism of interest here is distinguished not so much by its epistemological stance, which is a pluralistic mixture of positivist and interpretative approaches, but by its ontology -- mutual constitution. Consequential choice mechanisms may be consistent with this ontology, but it is hard to reconcile it with individualism. [19]

Second, research on social movements -- as the name implies -- is strongly and, indeed, normatively biased against granting causal primacy to statist variables. It is a deeply “bottom-up” view of politics, where state institutions or discourses among bureaucratic elites, say, are accorded a secondary role. Hence, one has the already noted tendency for much of the newer constructivist/SML work to portray the state and its decisionmakers as passive reactants to movement pressure, instead of active agenda setters in their own right. [20]

Third, SML assumes that social meanings (norms, say), and compliance with them, are the product of struggle and contestation -- a premise clearly endorsed in the new constructivist/SML literature. Social construction, in other words, does most decisively not occur through “diffuse social learning processes.” This claim is not so much wrong as incomplete. Indeed, one prominent movement theorist has recently argued -- contra to much previous SML writing -- that social psychology and the study of “interpersonal interactions” should be exploited to broaden our understanding of how meaning is socially constructed. [21]

Reinforcing the above biases is another related to issue area, with much of the recent constructivist/SML work examining international human rights. For two reasons, however, it will be difficult to generalize from arguments about compliance and socialization in this policy domain. For one, international human rights norms, and the institutions and transnational social movements that promote them, are increasingly institutionalized and robust. In this area, it thus makes sense to give less causal weight to domestic agency and other national-level factors -- as much of the new literature does. Moreover, many of these human-rights studies focus -- not surprisingly -- on rogue or authoritarian states. Such polities and their elites are eminently status-quo oriented, wanting to maintain the current (repressive) state of affairs; the initial agenda setting and mobilization comes from below, as recent work has vividly documented. Yet, in many other issue areas, the state and its elites may well take the lead in the political process. [22]

Whatever my criticisms, the fact remains that the two variants of the mobilization/protest mechanism have received more attention in constructivist studies of norm-driven compliance. In part, this is understandable. The shaming activities of Amnesty International, say, are very much in the public and scholarly eye, and undoubtedly play a major role in spurring compliance. Yet, the danger in overemphasizing this particular mechanism is not only empirical (neglecting other possible compliance dynamics at the national level), but ontological. It misses -- just as does much of the regime compliance and bargaining literatures -- the obvious fact that political/state agents do not simply or always calculate how to advance given interests; in many cases, they seek to discover those interests in the first place, and do so prior to social mobilization.

The broader constructivist literature points to just such a dynamic, however, in what I call a social learning mechanism. Here, it is not political pressure but learning that leads to agent compliance with normative prescriptions. This process appears to be based on notions of complex learning drawn from cognitive and social psychology, where individuals, when exposed to the prescriptions embodied in norms, adopt new interests. I say “appears” because scholars have remained vague on the precise cognitive model underlying this type of compliance. At this point, constructivist work on compliance thus intersects with the studies by cognitive regime theorists, Europeanists and the newer bargaining research mentioned earlier. [23]

Taking Social Interaction Seriously: Persuasion, Learning and Compliance

Building on the intersection of these various literatures, I seek to specify better the arguments on learning that are common to them. My starting point is that while these scholars have made powerful heuristic cases for its importance, there has been insufficient attention to operationalizing the concept in a manner amenable to systematic empirical testing. Moreover, a learning thesis by itself -- especially if it draws only upon cognitive psychology, where all the action is “between the earlobes” -- is inadequate for explaining social interaction and choice; this leads me to explore argumentative persuasion as a means of modelling this missing social dimension. Along the way, I am attentive to the political and institutional variables that are often neglected in analyses of this type.

To begin, what does it mean for an agent to learn? In a very fundamental sense, rationalists and social constructivists answer this question differently. While it is true that rational choice analysis has come to accord a role of sorts to learning, such work falls short of fully capturing the multiple ways it is causally important in social life. In particular, because of their adherence to methodological individualism, rationalists cannot model the interaction context during which agent interests may change. Indeed, when prominent scholars working in this tradition talk of “social interactions,” they are neither “social” or “interactions” in any meaningful sense. Instead, in a manner that is rather puzzling, “interactions” are collapsed into the utility functions of discrete agents. [24]

A direct consequence of such a stance is to portray learning in highly individualist terms. For example, some rationalists talk of Bayesian updating, where, after each discrete interaction, actors update their strategies and -- perhaps -- preferences. Others discuss another type of updating, where agents come to learn new “probability distributions.” Using different language to make the same point, many rational choice scholars emphasize so-called simple learning, where agents acquire new information as a result of interaction. At a later point (that is, after the interaction), this information may be used to alter strategies, but not preferences, which are given. Not surprisingly, all this rationalist theorizing reduces communication and language, which are central to any process of social learning, to the “cheap talk” of agents with fixed identities and interests. The result is to bracket the interaction context through which agent interests and identities may change. [25]

Specifically, the constructivist value added should be to explore complex social learning, which involves a process whereby agent interests and identities are shaped through and during interaction. So defined, social learning involves a break with strict forms of methodological individualism; it thus differs significantly from the rationalist work surveyed above. [26]

Consider small group settings. Empirically, it is clear there are times when agents acquire new preferences through interaction in such social contexts. This is not to deny periods of strategic exchange, where self-interested actors seek to maximize utility; yet, to emphasize the latter dynamic to the near exclusion of the former is an odd distortion of social reality. Now, the perhaps appropriate response is “so what?” Intuitively, it can be appreciated that social learning takes place at certain times, but how can one conceptualize and empirically explore whether and when it occurs? Luckily, there is a growing literature -- theoretical/experimental research by cognitive and social psychologists, work by organizational theorists, applications by constructivists and students of epistemic communities -- that performs precisely this theoretical/empirical combination. More specifically, this research suggests four hypotheses on when social learning occurs.

H#1 Social learning is more likely in groups where individuals share common professional backgrounds -- for example, where all/most group members are lawyers.

H#2 Social learning is more likely where the group feels itself in a crisis or is faced with clear and incontrovertible evidence of policy failure.

H#3 Social learning is more likely where a group meets repeatedly and there is high density of interaction among participants.

H#4 Social learning is more likely when a group is insulated from direct political pressure and exposure. [27]

Clearly, these hypotheses require further elaboration. For example, can a crisis situation be specified a priori, and not in a post-hoc fashion as is typically done? When is the density of interaction among group participants sufficiently high for a switch to occur from strategic exchange to interactive learning? If the group has formal voting procedures, do different rules -- unanimity, majority or, in the EU context, “qualified majority” -- affect the likelihood of learning? These are difficult issues, but they are only being raised because a first round of theoretical/empirical literature exists. [28]

The deductions also point to a powerful role for communication. Indeed, implicit above are underlying mechanisms of persuasion and argumentation, on which the social learning literature has been largely silent. These scholars often hint at such processes -- where communication and language allow agents to learn new interests/identities -- but fail to theorize them. This lacuna arose because much research, especially that by cognitive psychologists and organizational theorists, failed to explore social interaction; instead, the focus was often “artificial interactions” where no “face-to-face” meetings occur. Put differently, these literatures, with their reliance on notions of bounded rationality and heuristic cuing, are still individualist in nature. [29]

Not surprisingly, constructivists, drawing upon these literatures, have fallen into the same individualist trap. Finnemore’s excellent study, for example, is all about learning, but it is of a type that is asocial and devoid of interaction. UNESCO bureaucrats, in one of her cases, come and “teach” national civil servants; however, this occurs through no documented process of social interaction. Instead, these domestic agents listen, something goes on between the earlobes, and their values subsequently change. [30]

To explore these neglected mechanisms of social interaction, constructivists should exploit a rich literature in social psychology, political socialization and communications research on persuasion/argumentation. While this work is as varied as most, it can usefully be categorized along two dimensions: types and settings of persuasion. Regarding types, there is a fundamental distinction between manipulative and argumentative persuasion. The former, which is of less concern here, is largely asocial and lacking in interaction, often concerned with political elites manipulating mass publics (through, say, campaign advertising), and has a long tradition -- extending back to some of Riker’s work on political manipulation. In contrast, argumentative persuasion is, for most analysts, a social process of interaction that involves changing attitudes about cause and effect in the absence of overt coercion; it is thus a mechanism through which social learning may occur, leading to interest redefinition and identity change. More formally, persuasion of this sort “is an activity or process in which a communicator attempts to induce a change in the belief, attitude or behavior of another person ... through the transmission of a message in a context in which the persuadee has some degree of free choice.” [31]

As for settings, researchers have emphasized three: interpersonal, persuasion and mass media. These scale by the number of actors involved: interpersonal may be a “one on one” situation or small group; persuasion settings are larger, say a speech maker and his/her audience; mass media settings are the largest, involving messages conveyed over TV, radio, etc. Studies of persuasion and, especially, interpersonal settings typically emphasize argumentative persuasion, while those involving mass media not surprisingly key on the manipulative sort. [32]

The persuasion literature is not without its own theoretical, methodological failings. In particular, two are worth highlighting. First, much of this work, owing to its disciplinary roots in social psychology, proceeds via inductive theorizing. One result has been a failure to develop middle-range theory specifying scope conditions (when, under what conditions is argumentative persuasion more likely to work, etc). Below, I advance five such conditions; however, given the inductive approach, diversity and occasional contradictions within the literature, these should be viewed as preliminary. [33]

Second, many persuasion researchers, again due to their disciplinary background, have emphasized experimental or survey methods. Too often, this has led them to bracket the social interaction context through which persuasion occurs. More recently, several scholars have called for a broader range of methods, including various qualitative techniques that allow one to explore persuasion taking place in “authentic settings.” My own efforts seek to build upon these latter calls. [34]

These caveats aside, the literature allows one to advance five propositions on when agents should be especially open to argumentative persuasion.

H#5 Argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuadee is in a novel and uncertain environment and thus cognitively motivated to analyze new information. [35]

H#6 Argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuadee has few prior, ingrained beliefs that are inconsistent with the persuader’s message. (Put differently, agents with few “cognitive priors” who are “novices” will be more open to persuasion.) [36]

H#7 Argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader is an authoritative member of the in-group to which the persuadee belongs or wants to belong. [37]

H#8 Argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader does not lecture or demand, but, instead, “acts out principles of serious deliberative argument.” [38]

H#9 Argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader-persuadee interaction occurs in less politicized and more insulated settings. [39]

This focus on argumentative persuasion has several benefits. First, it highlights and begins to operationalize the obvious -- but neglected in both mainstream and constructivist compliance analysis -- roles of communication and social interaction. Indeed, two practitioner-scholars, both of whom have extensive experience in the real world of compliance diplomacy, go so far to call persuasion the “fundamental instrument” and “principal engine” for securing compliance. While this is surely overstated, it does alert us to our impoverished analytic tool kit for exploring its role. Second, this focus restores a sense of agency to the social norms that may be central to learning. Norms are not just something out there, waiting to help actors learn; they are carried by individuals and organizations (“the persuader” in H#7, H#8) who actively seek, through deliberation and argumentation, to promote learning. [40]

While the above deductions partly overlap with the first set, further work is still needed -- for example, how to specify “uncertain environments.” All the same, both sets of hypotheses do elaborate scope conditions (when, under what conditions persuasion and learning are likely), which is precisely the promising middle-range theoretical ground that still awaits exploitation by both cognitive regime scholars and constructivists. [41]

In sum, the value added of this micro-level constructivist cut at compliance is to expand our repertoire of answers to the question: Why do social actors comply? In some cases, they do so by learning new interests through processes of communication and persuasion. The ontology and understanding of social reality here is not individualist, but relational: I take seriously the dynamics of social interaction. Moreover and in contrast to recent constructivist work, the theory of choice is not consequentialist, where agents make careful means-ends calculations; instead, they “decide” by deliberating, puzzling and arguing. Finally, this approach is not method-driven: It develops scope conditions recognizing that social learning, persuasion and compliance with norms often do not occur. In turn, this leaves plenty of analytic space for rationalist arguments, as the cases below demonstrate. [42]

Methods: Measuring Persuasion/Learning and Social Sanctioning

Recall that my empirical concern is to document the processes and motivations through which agents come to comply with norms. The basic method is process-tracing, where one seeks “to investigate and explain the decision process by which various initial conditions are translated into outcomes [compliance, in this case].” I operationalize the method through use of four techniques. [43]

First, I interview participants in contemporary policy debates, seeking to ascertain their awareness of emerging European norms on membership and citizenship (my focus here), and, more important, why -- or, indeed, whether -- they comply with the norms’ prescriptions. In all instances, I utilize a similar interview protocol, starting with the general: “How, if at all, does German or Ukrainian identity relate to the country's citizenship policies?” “Are you aware of European-level work on such issues?” “If so, how did you become aware of these norms -- media coverage, network participation, professional associations, personal contacts, etc?” These were followed by more specific questions, for example: “How do these norms affect your thinking about and work on citizenship/membership?” “Do they prompt you to rethink the issue, and, if so, why?” “Do you see them as tools in political battles, and, if so, in what ways?” “What role does persuasion play?” “How would you characterize your relation to the persuader: Were you equals? Were you a supplicant?” “What kinds of arguments did you find most convincing, and why?”

My questions were designed to tap an individual's basic beliefs about citizenship/membership and what might be motivating him/her to change them -- that is, why he/she might be willing to comply with emerging European norms. On the latter, I gave interviewees several possibilities, including both their own cognitive uncertainty as well as external social pressure. I also suggested answers that addressed materialist incentives (changing citizenship practice might allow more immigrants to access a decreasing social-welfare pie), as well as identity concerns (changing citizenship practice would dilute the Germanness -- say -- of the country).

In designing and conducting the interviews, I paid particular attention to both temporal and intersubjective dimensions. On the former, whenever possible I have sought to interview and then re-interview the same individual at two different points in time (so-called “panel samples”). This not only allowed for establishing a degree of interviewer-interviewee rapport, which is crucial for in-depth questioning such as mine; it also enabled me to assess the validity of interviewee accounts. (Were they consistent over time? If they changed, then why?) Intersubjectively, I asked interviewees “to step outside” their individual thought processes and characterize their social interaction context. Especially for those who had been in one-on-one or small group settings, I suggested four possible ways to portray the dynamics within them: coercion, bargaining, emulation/imitation, persuasion/arguing. Interviewees were then asked to rank order the various possibilities, and to consider whether their rankings changed over time. [44]

Second, as a supplement and check on interview data, I carry out a content analysis of major media and specialist publications (international law journals, reports produced by the NGO community, for example). This allowed for checking the beliefs and motivations of particular individuals who were both interviewees and participants in public debates.

Third, whenever necessary and possible, I consult official documentary records. For example, my first case below explores the supranational process through which the Council of Europe (CE) has come to promote revised European citizenship norms; this included a number of confidential meetings in Strasbourg of state representatives and CE bureaucrats. I therefore sought and gained access to official summaries of those sessions. [45]

Fourth, I model a key temporal dimension: the evolution of domestic norms in my policy area (citizenship and minority rights). Why this particular focus? Given my interest in compliance driven by emerging European norms, I thought it important also to ask what might create barriers to it. My deductive hunch -- inspired by hypothesis #6 -- was that an important barrier would be historically constructed domestic identity norms, which could act as a filter hindering agent learning from regional/systemic norms. Furthermore, drawing upon historical institutionalist insights, I argue that these norms gain particular staying power and political influence when they become institutionalized. Institutionalization is measured through indicators that are both bureaucratic (norms embedded in organizations) and legal (norms incorporated into judicial codes, laws and constitutions). [46]

Together, these techniques allow for a degree of triangulation when assessing the degree to which, and through what mechanism(s), domestic agents comply with new regional norms, thus increasing confidence in the validity of my results. This use of process-tracing along with a consideration of counterfactual explanations, where appropriate, allow me to minimize reliance on “as if” assumptions at the national/agent level. I thus shrink the black box surrounding the social interaction context. [47]

The last comment raises an important issue: At the end of the day, how can I disentangle compliance driven by persuasion and social learning from that occurring due to calculating, self-interested strategic adaptation or to passive, cognitively simplifying emulation/imitation? I respond to this challenge in two ways. Methodologically, the use of multiple, process-oriented techniques allows me to carefully reconstruct accounts of actual agent motivations; equally important, they introduce an element of cross-checking. A strategically dissimulating agent who was just “feeding me a line” about being persuaded, for example, might be expected to offer different motivations and justifications in other, more private (closed meetings) or more public (media appearances) contexts. Likewise, a cognitive miser, imitating/emulating agent should consistently, across contexts (interviews, media appearances) offer little substantive argumentation or reasoning to explain his/her act of compliance, for it was simply an economic way of reducing ambiguity/uncertainty in the environment. [48]

A second response questions the role of assumptions in theory building. The view informing my efforts is that, to the extent possible, we should replace assumptions with careful empirical analysis. As has recently been argued:

the fact that we can construct an “as if” story in any situation to reconcile behavior to a self-interest explanation does not mean that self interest should be our default position either, unless we can establish that story is more compelling as an account of actual motivations than that offered by other theories.

For sure, the choice-theoretic critique of those who study preference formation is a well-taken and cautionary reminder of the difficulties involved in the enterprise. However, criticism should not be allowed to become dogma, especially if one’s concern is to model and explain the social world as it really works. [49]

* * *

In the three cases that follow, I look for evidence of and reasons for compliance at various levels -- both supranationally and domestically. For the latter, my focus is intentionally broad and includes elite decisionmakers, parliamentarians, trade unions, political parties, NGOs and immigrant/minority groups, among others.

The examples given below are just that -- examples that seek to establish the plausibility of my approach, and not fully elaborated case studies. I draw upon -- and, in some cases, reassess -- my own previously published work to document that norm-driven compliance is both a process of cost/benefit sanctioning and shaming (as rationalists would predict) and one of persuasion and social learning (as constructivists would argue). Methodologically, in terms of outcomes, the following also suggests the crucial importance of employing counterfactual analysis. [50]

Case I: Compliance via Bargaining and Arguing -- A Norm is Born

For constructivists, is the process oriented, micro-level focus outlined in the preceding sections a feasible undertaking? Drawing upon my own work in progress, I suggest the answer is “yes.” In a larger project, I am studying the evolution of new European citizenship norms; an important concern is to explain, at the European level, whether and how new understandings of citizenship are emerging -- that is, the process through which new citizenship norms emerge and why agents begin to comply with them. To date, my focus has been on Strasbourg and the Council of Europe (CE), for this has been where the more serious, substantive work has occurred. When the CE is trying to develop new policy, it often sets up committees of experts under the Committee of Ministers, the intergovernmental body that sits atop the Council’s decisionmaking hierarchy. [51]

I have been examining the Committee of Experts on Nationality, the group that was charged with revising earlier European understandings of citizenship that dated from the 1960s. My interest was to describe and explain what occurred in this group as it met over a four year period -- in particular, why it changed existing understandings on dual citizenship to remove the strict prohibition that had previously existed at the European level. To address such issues, I did the following. Four rounds of field work were conducted in Strasbourg; during these trips, I interviewed various individuals who served on the Committee -- members of the Council Secretariat and experts. Then, I conducted interviews in several member-state capitals, meeting with national representatives to the committee of experts. Finally, as a cross-check on interview data, more recently I was granted partial access to the confidential meeting summaries of the Committee.

This was a considerable amount of work, but the pay off was high. Over time, particular individuals clearly shifted from what they viewed as a strategic bargaining game (for example, seeking side payments to advance given interests) to a process where basic preferences were rethought. This shift was particularly evident on the question of dual citizenship, where a growing number of committee members came to view the existing prohibition as simply wrong. Instead, they agreed on a new understanding that viewed multiple nationality in a more positive light.

Processes of persuasion and learning were key in explaining why individual members began to comply with this emerging norm, and such dynamics were facilitated by four factors. First, Committee members shared a largely common educational and professional background, being trained as lawyers who had for many years dealt with issues of immigration and nationality (H#1). Second, the group was meeting at a time when there was a growing sense of policy failure: The number of dual nationals was climbing rapidly despite the existing prohibition (H#2). Third, the shift from a bargaining to an arguing game was greatly facilitated by the committee’s insulation from publicity and overt political pressure. Indeed, it benefited from the public perception of Strasbourg as a quiet backwater -- with the real action occurring in Brussels (the EU’s provisions for a “European citizenship”). This allowed it to meet and work out revised understandings on citizenship prior to any overt politicization of its work (H#4, H#9).

Fourth and perhaps most important, the Committee contained three members who were both highly respected by other group participants and renowned for their powers of persuasion. Indeed, several different interviewees, with no prodding, identified these same individuals as playing central roles in “changing people’s minds” -- not through arm twisting, but by the power of arguments (H#8). That is, the Committee possessed effective persuaders who were authoritative members of the in-group (H#7). Consistent with my earlier discussion, in these interviews I suggested four possible ways to characterize dynamics within the group: coercion, bargaining, emulation/imitation, persuasion/arguing. Interviewees were then asked to rank order them; persuasion/arguing consistently came out on top. [52]

At the same time, it should be stressed that not all committee members complied with the emerging norm or learned new interests. Indeed, one national representative held deeply ingrained beliefs that were opposed to arguments favoring a relaxation of prohibitions on dual citizenship. Consistent with the above deductions (H#6), there is no evidence this individual was persuaded to alter his basic preferences. Instead, he consistently tried to steer group meetings toward an intergovernmental bargaining game, showing up with long lists of talking points that made clear his and his government’s concerns -- especially on the question of multiple nationality. [53]

The point of this example is not to dismiss rationalist accounts of compliance. Rather, it is to note the value added of a middle-range constructivist supplement to these more standard portrayals: It led me to ask new questions and employ a different set of research techniques. The result was to broaden our understanding of how new European norms are constructed, and how agents come to comply with their prescriptions through processes of non-strategic interaction.

Whether or not one accepts these arguments, the basic point remains. In making claims about social learning, persuasion or arguing promoted by, or conducted within, regimes and institutions, cognitive regime theorists and constructivists must better theorize these dynamics. As one scholar has correctly noted, “what is needed is a decision-making theory which includes in its analysis the ways in which preferences, beliefs and desires are shaped by participation in the decision-making process itself.” While offering no such theory above, the analysis, by developing scope conditions for when “participation ... in the process” does indeed lead to preference change, marks a start in this direction. [54]

Case II: Compliance via Social Sanctioning -- A Norm is Contested

My German study highlights the importance of institutional variables in explaining compliance outcomes, the role of instrumental choice mechanisms favored by rationalists in the social sanctioning dynamic so often highlighted by constructivists, and, methodologically, the importance of employing counterfactual analysis. I treat each in turn. [55]

History and Institutions Matter. As discussed in the preceding section, European norms on citizenship and membership are evolving. They are moving in a more inclusive direction, with emphasis on broadened understandings of both citizenship and the rights of national minorities; in particular, these CE norms promote inclusion by facilitating dual citizenship. In Germany, dual citizenship would promote the assimilation of the large foreigner population. For many decades, German law required immigrants and foreigners to give up their original citizenship if they wished to seek it in Germany; this was an obstacle to integration since many did not wish to sever all ties to their homeland. The importance of dual citizenship for large parts of the foreigner community has been so great that they acquire it through illegal methods that contravene German law. [56]

The lack of fit between these changing regional norms and understandings of identity and citizenship held by many Germans is significant. While there are clear historical reasons why these understandings took hold in Germany, the important point is that they became reinforced over time and were institutionalized in domestic laws and institutions. Legal and bureaucratic indicators as well as textual analysis and interview data all suggest the embedded nature of these domestic norms. [57]

To give one example: Through March 1999, the German citizenship statute continued to be based on a “Law on Imperial and State Citizenship” that dates from 1913, and an ethnic conception of identity was maintained throughout the German legal system -- notably in Article 116 (1) of the Basic Law, the post-war German constitution. Indeed, the ethnic core of the 1913 citizenship law is reproduced in the Basic Law via a so-called “Nationalstaatsprinzip” (the Nation-State Principle), which makes very clear that there is a material core (that is, blood ties) connecting a citizen and his/her nation. As one analyst has noted, this basic principle, despite minor modifications over the years, “remains effective until [the] present.” [58]

Why bother with this history and background? I do so for a straightforward theoretical reason. Proposition #6 suggests that a key variable affecting whether agents comply with regime norms via processes of persuasion and social learning will be their cognitive priors and, more generally, their broader normative environment. In particular, for cases like the German one, where there is a degree of mismatch between regional and institutionalized domestic norms, one should expect heightened levels of normative contestation and a short-circuiting of social learning as agents find themselves in multiple (domestic, regional) institutional settings that evoke conflicting roles. Compliance via sanctioning and cost/benefit analysis should thus be more likely -- a finding strongly supported by my research to date. [59]

Social Sanctions and Mobilization. Recent years have witnessed an explosion of social protest and mobilization on questions of citizenship and the situation of foreigners in Germany, with key roles being played by the liberal media, churches, trade unions, grassroots citizens' initiatives, and the commissioners for foreigners' affairs.

Here, I present two examples of such mobilization, documenting the extent to which CE/European norms promote it, and, at a micro-level, exploring how these norms connect to domestic agents. To begin, the churches have been one important social force helping to mobilize pressure and peaceful protest. In recent years, the governing bodies of the Protestant, Evangelical and Catholic denominations have called for Germany to adopt an immigration and integration policy for its resident foreigners, including acceptance of dual citizenship and a move to greater elements of jus soli in German law. In Berlin, the Evangelical church has produced flyers on dual citizenship; these make the case for it by referring, among other factors, to emerging European norms and recent work by the Council of Europe. In the best corporatist tradition, the churches have also sought to make their views known by participating in conferences and policy networks on issues of foreigners' rights. [60]

In a second example, one sees the broader public -- in the form of a grassroots citizens' initiative -- playing a key role. Seizing upon a policy window created by the surge in anti-foreigner violence that accompanied German unification, a group of activists based in Berlin orchestrated, beginning in 1992, an initiative that was specifically focused on the need for dual citizenship in German law; it gathered over 1 million signatures from a broad array of public figures. It was a textbook example of how to mobilize public pressure on a specific policy issue. The campaign coordinated its actions with other social actors (specifically, the Evangelical Church), collected signatures from prominent German academics and public figures, and secured free publicity for the initiative in the centrist-liberal German press (Der Spiegel, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and Berliner Zeitung, among others). [61]

Moreover, the existence of European understandings favoring inclusive conceptions of citizenship played an important role in the campaign. Signature collectors pointed to the presence of such norms, and, more generally, the initiative distributed an information sheet noting that Germany's refusal to recognize multiple nationality made it “an international exception.” [62]

These examples confirm what much of the constructivist literature has already documented: that regional/systemic norms can promote national compliance by helping spark a process of social sanctioning and mobilization. Yet, exactly how, at the agent level, did this occur? That is, why were social actors complying with normative injunctions? My interviewing/fieldwork and document/media analysis reveal a mixed picture. In the majority of cases (trade unions, press, churches), these agents were using CE norms to pursue given ends; they were an additional tool that could be instrumentally used to generate pressure on government policymakers, who then engaged in cost/benefit calculations. Large parts of the compliance dynamic, in other words, were consistent with key elements of a more enlightened rational-choice argument, where a consequentialist choice mechanism is integrated with a social ontology that allows agents to pursue non-material goals. [63]

A final point about the social sanctioning described here is its apparent lack of effect. Throughout the mid-1990s, German policymakers decided not to comply, despite this pressure and mobilization. Minor changes to citizenship and nationality laws were indeed enacted during these years; however, on the key issue of dual citizenship, stasis and lack of change prevailed.

Compliance Attained and Regional Norms Triumphant? At this point, the knowledgeable reader may exclaim “wait a minute”! Surely, this deadlocked state of affairs changed dramatically after the September 1998 federal elections, when the CDU/CSU coalition was replaced by a Social Democratic Party (SPD) - Green one. Indeed, during the spring of 1999 the new government legislated far-reaching changes to Germany’s nationality laws. Among other liberalizing provisions, these allow for dual citizenship, albeit for a limited period, after which immigrants must choose German nationality or that of their “home” country. Interpreting these changes drives home the importance and necessity of systematically integrating both institutional and counterfactual analysis into studies of compliance. [64]

Theoretically, recent events confirm the relevance of my earlier discussion of cognitive priors and role conflict (H#6), with historically constructed and institutionalized ethnic conceptions of German identity clashing with new, emergent and more civic understandings. Indeed, the SPD/Green citizenship reform proposals have both intensified this clash and revealed its deeper normative dimension. The result has been a wide-ranging debate in Germany unlike any -- with the exception of those over the Holocaust -- seen in many years. It is a heated, impassioned and very public disagreement over what it means to be German. For sure, much of the rhetoric is just that: Rhetoric employed strategically in an ongoing political contest. The compliance setting is thus not one of calm deliberation, where agents/persuaders “act out principles of serious deliberative argument” (H#8, H#9).

In many other cases, however, behavior seems driven not by politics and strategizing, but by more fundamental identity conceptions -- to what Free Democratic Party (FDP) general secretary Westerwelle has called “immigration policies from the gut.” The results of the Hesse state election in February 1999, where the CDU/CSU scored an upset victory by exploiting deep popular concern over dual citizenship and its impact on German identity, vividly confirm the importance of this normative dimension in the current debate. As outgoing Hesse governor Hans Eichel noted, the question of double citizenship “became so emotional that it mobilized the opposition.” Put differently, institutional analysis at this deepest, normative level is essential for fully understanding why German social actors comply -- or, more to the point, do not comply -- with the prescriptions embodied in new regional norms. [65]

This said, one must still ask: Are not the recent changes compelling evidence of the power of norms to promote compliance, especially through a process of social sanctioning? After all, there is a striking correlation between the content of the SPD/Green proposals, on the one hand, and the prescriptions embedded in emerging European norms and the reforms earlier advocated by numerous groups/movements in Germany, on the other. Yet, correlation is not causation, and I am skeptical of any strong claims along these lines. For one, the shift in policy also correlates with a dramatic changeover at the elite level. SPD Chancellor Schroeder is not simply a “third way,” Blairite social democrat; equally important, he signals the arrival in power of a truly post-war generation of German politicians. And generational change of this sort is often a key causal variable behind radical policy shifts, especially at the ideational/normative level highlighted here. [66]

Methodologically, however, it is important to ask the counterfactual: Absent the development of new regional norms and absent domestic social sanctioning, would liberalizing changes to conceptions of citizenship in any case be occurring in a modern industrial democracy such as Germany? That is, would it look like compliance driven by norms when in fact something else was at work? While it is beyond the limits of the present paper to conduct a thorough analysis of this sort, there are reasons to expect the answer might be “yes.” For example, it has been persuasively argued that immigration/nationality policy in liberal states has an in-built bias towards becoming more expansionist and inclusive over time: It is dominated by client politics, where small and often well-organized employer, human-rights and ethnic groups work with state officials outside public view to promote more inclusive membership policies. While the sentiment of the general public is typically anti-immigration, this interest is diffuse; in contrast, the interests of immigrant advocacy groups tend to be concentrated. Collective action problems thus explain: (a) the public’s inability to bring about more restrictive change; and (b) why the preferences of the better organized liberal interest groups tend to prevail. [67]

Indeed, the very process of exploring the counterfactual helps me sharpen the argument. In particular, I would reconcile the three causal strands identified above -- social sanctioning spurred by regional norms, generational turnover and client politics -- in the following manner. For one, it is very likely that the SPD election victory and accompanying generational shift simply accelerated a process of change that was already under way, due to the mobilization dynamics sketched earlier. Moreover, the “concentrated interests” of the advocacy groups engaged in client politics were likely more “mobilizeable” due to the existence of new regional norms, and, in some cases, learned in the first place via exposure to them. [68]

My more general point is that detailed process tracing along with careful consideration of counterfactuals are crucial components of any argument about norm-driven compliance. Use of the two techniques not only allowed me to uncover the dominant role of consequential choice mechanisms in the compliance decisions of numerous social actors (and the non-role of deliberation/persuasion); their use also produced a more nuanced argument regarding the influence of regional norms. Analysis of this sort can thus help both constructivists and cognitive regime theorists to delimit more carefully the scope of their explanatory claims, thus stimulating dialogue with theoretical opponents.

Case III: Compliance via Persuasion/Learning -- A Norm Teaches

In Ukraine, one is immediately struck by the small role of social sanctioning as a mechanism of norm-driven compliance; CE norms have mattered most at the elite/state level, where the demand for new principles and norms has been high. Now, perhaps this result is skewed by the absence of a key variable: transnational networks promoting normative change. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Since 1989 and, in many cases, long before, human-rights practices in post-Soviet states -- including Ukraine -- have been targeted by a wide range of actors: international organizations such as the CE, OSCE and, more recently, the European Union; numerous international NGOs; and wealthy industrialized democracies who have crafted assistance programs specifically designed to empower new social actors in these transition polities. Thus, in principle, the network was in place to spur compliance through a process of social sanctioning and mobilization. [69]

However, the latter has not occurred. Instead, due primarily to the efforts of a small number of individuals and units within the state, Ukrainian discourse and law on citizenship and rights issues have changed in ways consistent with emerging CE norms on national membership. In contrast to many other post-Soviet states, Ukraine has moved to create a civic definition of citizenship. This inclusive conception of national identity has helped policymakers craft one of the more liberal minority-rights regimes in the former Soviet area. A decree and a law on national minorities that permit a high degree of cultural autonomy have been promulgated. In addition, civic conceptions of citizenship and minority rights are explicitly embraced in the new constitution adopted in June 1996. [70]

Compliance and Social Learning. Four factors were key in promoting this process of compliance. First, there was the establishment in June, 1993, of an Interdepartmental Commission for Questions of Ukraine's Admission to the Council of Europe. It was based at the Foreign Ministry and headed by then First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Tarasyuk. The Commission came to play a major role on citizenship and rights issues; within it, Tarasyuk was a progressive force. Those who dealt with him described a creative thinker who encouraged subordinates to seek out new ideas and approaches. His own unclear preferences (H#5) led him to use the Commission as a vehicle for soliciting a wide range of advice on rights issues within Ukraine as well as from the international community, as it met repeatedly (H#3) over the course of two years. Key conditions were thus in place for processes of persuasion and social learning to play out. [71]

Second, the head of the Citizenship Division within the Presidential Administration, turned out, largely by chance, to be a liberal-minded former academic: Petro Chaliy. Chaliy and those he gathered around him were very open to regional norms and the prescriptions they embodied. Their views mattered because in the top-heavy Ukrainian state, the presidential administration -- even more so than post-Soviet Russia -- plays a dominant role in policymaking. [72]

According to Ukrainian participants in the work of both Tarasyuk’s Commission and Chaliy’s Division, Council of Europe expertise and the norms it promotes were central to shaping nationality laws and policies. Several components of the minorities law, for example, are modelled on the Council's European Convention on Human Rights. Process tracing of this sort allows me to move beyond correlations and establish a causal role for Council norms. More important, it reveals the mechanism through which Ukrainian agents came to comply with CE norms: learning. Tarasyuk and Chaliy are examples of moral entrepreneurs -- individuals open to learning from new norms and willing to promote them. Moreover, the promoters of these norms were not NGOs utilizing a politics of social sanctioning, but regional experts and Ukrainians engaged in a calm dialogue, where exploration and arguing, and not lecturing, were the rule (H#8). These experts were mainly capable and committed staffers from the CE, that is, “authoritative members of the in-group to which the persuadee ... wants to belong” (H#7). [73]

Third, pre-existing institutional structure played a central, causal role in promoting compliance via persuasion and social learning. In particular, the autonomous and insulated nature of Ukrainian state institutions, which lessoned the amount of political friction to which administrative elites were exposed, gave agents like Tarasyuk and Chaliy the possibility of learning new preferences on citizenship and minority rights ((H#4, H#9). However, a crucial question is why this possibility turned into a reality. What motivated these agents to learn? One factor, readily admitted in interviews was a simple combination of Western coercion and Ukrainian strategic interest. Given its large and unpredictable neighbour to the east (Russia), Ukraine had a clear interest in joining “Euro-Atlantic structures,” as Ukrainian policymakers never tire of declaring. To join required membership in Western Europe’s key institutions -- most notably, for my purposes, the Council of Europe. Yet, this membership was withheld for several years (1991-93), in a direct attempt to coerce Ukraine into adopting and implementing CE principles. Thus external (material) sanctions and domestic cost/benefit calculations, as the rationalist regime compliance literature would predict, were causally important.

At the same time, this strategic adaptation argument fails to capture important parts of the compliance story. Much of the social learning occurred in 1993 and early 1994; it thus predates Kuchma's election as president in July, 1994, when Ukraine made a strategic decision to seek closer ties with various Western institutions. Relatedly, the years 1993-94 saw an extensive debate in Ukraine over the “neutrality option” -- seeking a position independent of both West Europe and Russia. At that point, there was thus no consensus on a balancing strategy against Russia, which clearly would have made it in Ukraine's self interest to instrumentally adopt Council norms. Thus, it is empirically incorrect to assert that instrumental/rationalist arguments alone are adequate for explaining the outcome. [74]

Fourth, many of these Ukrainian agents were truly novices, with few deeply ingrained cognitive priors on matters of nationality and citizenship (H#6). Consider Dr. Chaliy in the Presidential Administration. Before taking this position, he was a researcher at the Institute of State and Law of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences; his scholarly work focused on constitutional law and local self-governance. Thus, like many other new elites in post-communist states, Chaliy found himself in an unfamiliar position, dealing with issues of first principle: the fundamental normative guidelines for Ukraine’s conception of membership. In fact, testimony from those who observed him in various meetings/workshops makes clear that persuasion and argumentation, based on prescriptions embodied in regional norms, promoted learning. [75]

A comparison with post-Soviet Russia is instructive. For the latter, many “new” elites are holdovers from the Soviet era, a fact explained by the massive size of the Soviet/Russian apparatus. In contrast, the USSR bequeathed Ukraine a vastly smaller personnel inheritance, as most key decisions during the Soviet period were taken in Moscow. Thus, in relative terms, Ukraine was forced to recruit more outsiders for positions such as Chaliy’s, which, in turn, has increased the probability of compliance occurring through dynamics of persuasion and social learning -- due to the noviceness of these individuals. [76]

The (Non-) Role of Social Sanctioning. Moving beyond the elite level, an important issue, from an analytic perspective, is the absence in Ukraine of compliance spurred by social sanctioning. As already noted, Europe possesses a robust and large human-rights network; thus, the necessary conditions for the mobilization of transnational/domestic pressure -- the “boomerang” -- would seem to be in place. However, for three reasons such mobilization has failed.

First, the Ukrainian NGO community, when compared to its Western, Asian or even Russian counterparts, is extraordinarily young, with most NGOs only 4-5 years old. One often encounters NGOs that are basically one individual; moreover, even for genuine NGOs, lack of experience and poor networking with like-minded organizations have resulted in many false starts and weakened their ability to mobilize public pressure. Compounding these internal problems is the poorly developed state of the Ukrainian press: Even when NGOs do orchestrate pressure campaigns, the media, due to inexperience, often fails to cover them. [77]

Second, NGOs in Ukraine are operating in a fiscal and political environment that, to say the least, is inhospitable. On the former, the taxation and incorporation laws currently in effect make it virtually impossible for NGOs to survive -- unless, that is, they engage in commercial activities that consume valuable time and energy. The political setting as well has worsened in recent years, with many NGOs and activists complaining of a growing gap that separates governmental structures from civil society. The legislature (Rada), in particular, reacts very negatively to any overt NGO pressure campaigns. [78]

Third, Ukrainian NGOs have a strategic disincentive to engage in social sanctioning activity. Why? With good ties to individuals newly installed in state institutions, it simply makes strategic sense to exploit, instead, these personal contacts, seeking to exert behind-the-scenes influence, via persuasion and social learning. Unfortunately, this is an unreliable mechanism through which to pursue norm-driven compliance, given the rapid personnel turnover in so many government departments. Indeed, NGOs were ecstatic when Serhiy Holovaty, who is considered one of the founding fathers of the Ukrainian civil-society/NGO movement, was appointed Minister of Justice in September 1995; yet, he was removed from this post less than two years later in a government reshuffle. [79]

Correlation, Causation and Counterfactuals. In sum, one has a clear correlation between CE norms and a compliance process driven by persuasion and social learning; this has led to important changes in Ukrainian citizenship and minority rights policy. Furthermore, process tracing confirms a significant causal role for these regional norms. Nonetheless, to delimit more clearly my explanatory claims it is essential to explore the counterfactual. Specifically, would Ukrainian policy on citizenship and membership be any different in the absence of compliance with CE norms? That is, would it look like compliance driven by norms when in fact something else was at work? Given that over 25% of its population consists of national minorities, could not self interest alone explain the adoption of liberal policies -- thus making “compliance” with CE norms largely epiphenomenal? The weak answer is that, yes, self interest explains why new policies were considered in the first place, but that Council-sponsored norms tell much about their content.

The strong answer begins by observing that a country's objective interest in dealing with minority populations is not always clear -- witness the differing ways in which Croatia, Hungary and Latvia have dealt with minorities within their borders. Compared to other similarly situated countries with similar problems, Ukraine has reacted with a much more liberal and inclusive conception of minorities' place within the state. This indicates a stronger role for norms in shaping the very definition of interests.

None of this is to deny the role that strategic calculation and consequentialist choice mechanisms have played in the compliance dynamics discussed above. At the same time, my results point to the clear limitation of rationalist analyses of the CE/European-rights regime, which argue that states comply with its norms as elites, with fixed interests and in the face of societal pressure, conduct careful cost/benefit calculations. Something else is occurring at the agent level, with elites complying because they have leaned new interests. More generally, the Ukrainian case suggests that recent constructivist studies of norm-driven compliance may have over-emphasized, in causal terms, the role played by a politics of social sanctioning at the expense of a process of social learning. [80]

Involuntary Non-Compliance. If I stopped at this point, Ukraine would appear as the great compliance success story. However, more recent events paint a different picture and suggest, again, the importance of integrating institutional variables into studies of compliance. Indeed, from the perspective of an outside observer, the same agents who had learned new preferences in the human-rights/citizenship area and had helped get progressive laws on the books were surprisingly unmotivated to insure that proper policy machinery was in place to implement new human-rights practices. However, they had few strategic incentives, given the centralization of state structures and their autonomy from key societal actors, to worry about such matters. [81]

Not surprisingly then, as the 1990s progressed, Ukraine went from being one of the Council of Europe’s “star pupils” to something more akin to a “problem child.” Problems arose in the areas of citizenship (situation of Crimean Tartars), minority rights (status of Russian language) and human rights (serious difficulties in implementing penal reform; continuing use of death penalty). The argument here is not that Ukrainian policymakers had become bad or “unlearned” their new preferences; rather, incentives flowing from the institutional context led them, unintentionally, to undercut Ukraine’s ability to comply with CE prescriptions. As rationalists would correctly predict, the structure of the game had logically led to the selection of certain -- flawed, in this case -- strategies. Put differently, the institutional incentive structure inherited from Soviet times generated unintended consequences, specifically, inattention to implementation mechanisms; the result was “involuntary non-compliance.” [82]

An example, taken specifically from the human-rights area, is helpful here. An important step forward for Ukraine (and most other post-Soviet states) has been elimination of the death penalty. To some (Americans, say), this may seem odd; however, in Europe a strong norm against it exists. Indeed, a prerequisite of CE membership is that states remove death penalty statutes from their judicial codes. In Ukraine, this never actually happened. Instead, several years ago, President Kuchma did the logical thing: He issued a decree -- just like in Soviet times -- announcing a moratorium on executions. The necessary implementation procedures -- changes to the Ukrainian judicial code, an information campaign to convince a sceptical public why the penalty should be banned, say -- were never fully carried out. In fact, during 1996, Ukraine conducted 167 executions, which, worldwide, was second only to China. Council officials in Strasbourg, to say the least, are dismayed at this state of affairs, and, more recently, have begun efforts to help Ukraine develop the necessary legal and social implementation mechanisms. [83]

Conditionality and Compliance. The last comment highlights an important issue: How the conditionality policy of an international organization affects its strategies to attain compliance. Many such organizations (the EU, NATO or the World Trade Organization, say) utilize a rather strict conditionality criterion: An applicant must do x, y and z before attaining membership status, that is, be in nearly full compliance with fundamental regime norms. In contrast, the Council of Europe has pursued a mixed policy: Once an applicant like Ukraine is deemed to be on the way to full compliance, membership is granted. Council officials are very explicit on the logic here: The best way to attain compliance with core norms is to bring applicant countries into the institution as quickly as possible, where they can then “persuade” and “socialize” them. [84]

This policy becomes problematic, however, if new members then become non-compliant. What strategies can be employed to restore compliance? Many of the tools stressed by the mainstream regime compliance literature -- material sanctions, attempts to influence the cost/benefit calculations of national officials, say -- would seem to be of little help. Furthermore, in the case of the CE, countries like Ukraine know the institution has been very reluctant to employ sanctions of this sort, especially once a country has membership status. Instead, Council officials have thus sought to reinforce the social context of CE membership and have done so through a new, non-public monitoring procedure designed not to sanction, but persuade recalcitrant members to move toward compliance. [85]

This procedure is quite new, but several features suggest the utility of persuasion/social-learning approaches for studying its impact on member states’ compliance records. For one, it is built around an ongoing series of small, private seminars in Strasbourg (H#3, H#4, H#9) that bring together CE bureaucrats, experts and national officials. More important, the central dynamic at these meetings is not finger pointing and shaming, but persuasion and the power of arguments (H#7, H#8). It is worth quoting at length one Council document on how the seminars work.

There is thus both an individual and collective recognition that certain situations are not compatible with commitments entered into and that these situations must be changed. This process of recognition is facilitated by the fact that the discussions take place in camera and that an atmosphere of understanding and cooperation allows Representatives of member States to become aware of other member States’ opinions on certain aspects of their national situation. They also discover that other member States have had to face similar problems. Exchange of experience can therefore take place to identify ways of dealing with the situation.

In this process, “diplomatic persuasion” is seen as playing a central role. [86]

Council officials claim the seminars have helped persuade several member states to improve instances of non-compliance. For example, Ukraine (and Russia) have more recently promulgated new moratoriums on further use of the death penalty. Obviously, such assertions need to be verified through additional process tracing and empirical analysis. Theoretically, however, the episode again highlights constructivism’s value added for studying compliance -- in particular, its stress on regimes and international organizations as social institutions, where language, persuasion and learning are causally important. [87]


I conclude by addressing three issues: how this study advances the constructivist research program; the importance of integrating institutional factors into compliance studies; and a need for greater attention to the development of scope conditions in the rationalist/constructivist debate.

Constructivism. The distinguishing feature of the constructivism discussed in this essay is its ontological stance of mutual constitution -- the reproduction of social reality through the interaction of agents and structures. While this is fine as a meta-theoretical starting point, the devil has been in the details: the practical application of this insight in empirical research. Early work responded to this challenge in a pragmatic and understandable way, adopting a bracketing strategy where one holds agency constant, while exploring its effects on structure (and then the reverse). In reality, most work emphasized the structure --> agent relation, which nonetheless was a major advance given the individualist ontologies so prevalent in mainstream IR theory. More recent constructivist studies have restored greater balance to the agent-structure problematic by drawing upon the work of social movement theorists. However, this has come at the cost of viewing social interaction in a truncated and incomplete way -- for example, as “strategic social construction.” The instrumental view of agency embedded in such notions has erected a black box around processes of social choice. [88]

This essay has supplemented such perspectives, by theorizing interaction and choice as dynamic processes of persuasion and learning where social construction is less “strategic” than deliberative; in effect, I have attempted to shrink this black box. While my approach faces its own methodological and theoretical challenges, two trends -- in two very different research communities -- suggest it is worth pursuing. First, a number of constructivists who study international institutions are moving in directions similar to that sketched here, exploring, for example, literatures on learning, persuasion, social influence and Habermasian communicative rationality to better model processes of social interaction. [89]

All these approaches are complementary and might benefit from greater “cross-fertilization.” For example, my deductions on persuasion may be useful to German constructivists as they grapple with the difficult task of operationalizing Habermasian notions of communicative rationality. These scholars have argued that Habermas’ theory of communicative action can provide an alternative theory of interaction through which agents discover their preferences. As a point of (theoretical) departure, this is excellent; however, from an empirical perspective, the challenge is to apply these Habermasian insights in real world settings. As many have noted, this problem is particularly daunting given that Habermas provides little sense of “the various social mechanisms that might help us better to understand how social systems and individuals’ actions mesh.” The persuasion literature explored above may be one way of filling this gap. [90]

Second and perhaps more surprisingly, researchers who study international institutions from a rational choice perspective are also calling for increased attention to interaction and process. Indeed, in a recent agenda-setting essay, prominent rationalists argued that the study of international institutions faces two key challenges -- specifying in a systematic manner the mechanisms through which they have effects on states, and unpacking the implicit and often underspecified models of domestic politics employed in earlier research on them. Likewise, a leading rational-choice student of international regimes has identified the study of “regime consequences” and the development of bargaining theories that include elements of arguing as key cutting-edge issues. This move by rationalists away from bracketing “as if” assumptions to the study of real world mechanisms and processes clearly intersects with concerns embraced by a growing number of constructivists as well. [91]

Institutional Analysis. My case studies suggest three different ways in which institutions matter in the compliance process. First, institutional legacies can frustrate the well-intentioned plans of national agents to comply. This involuntary defection dynamic was clearly at work in my Ukrainian case. Second, the structure of domestic institutions seems to be key in explaining variance in the mechanisms through which compliance occurs. Consider again the German and Ukrainian cases: Ceteris paribus, the relatively insulated nature of Ukrainian institutions increased the likelihood that compliance would be attained via persuasion and learning; likewise, pluralist German institutions made it likely that social sanctioning would play a more important role in the compliance process. [92]

Third, institutions were also causally important at a deeper level. In particular, pre-existing norms were key in affecting agent willingness to comply with the injunctions of emerging European understandings. The presence of such cognitive priors hindered compliance (the one national representative in the Strasbourg case; many elites in the German case), while their absence promoted it through persuasion and learning (the noviceness of so many agents in my Ukrainian study).

Consistent with the problem-driven focus of this paper, I should note that these three institutional effects are best captured and explained by differing theoretical tool kits. The first -- involuntary defection -- is one that rational-choice analysts have often highlighted, while the third -- normative structures -- is best theorized through sociological and constructivist approaches. The second, which is essentially a domestic structures argument, sits somewhat uneasily between rational choice and social constructivist analyses. Thus, one important lesson to draw from these findings is that researchers would do well to cast their nets broadly when asking why social actors comply. [93]

Scope Conditions. The sceptical response to the foregoing is “fine, the real world may be complicated, but such calls for synthesis are a prescription for ’analytic mush’ and ’kitchen sink’ arguments, where everything ’matters’.” While this claim is overstated, it does raise the central challenge for approaches such as mine: the development of so-called scope or boundary conditions. That is, when and under what conditions are rationalist as opposed to constructivist methods more appropriate for understanding why social actors comply? To be fair, I have advanced a number of such conditions in this essay: the second and third institutional factors above and my earlier discussion of persuasion and social learning (H#1 - H#9).

However, more work is required: To take just one example, (material) power and capabilities are underspecified in my analysis. Consider again the German and Ukrainian studies, with the latter broadly a case of compliance and the former an instance of non-compliance. I attributed these outcomes to differing degrees of agent noviceness and domestic institutional insulation; however, power differentials likely played a role as well. Ukraine is a weak supplicant seeking to join Europe, while Germany is the dominant politico-economic power on that continent. Methodologically, this suggests a way to sharpen my propositions: Extend the analysis to a case where one has novice agents who come from stronger, more powerful states -- say, China or Russia. [94]

Despite such difficulties, there are two important reasons for proceeding in a more synthetic direction. First, analytic synthesis is essential if we are to understand fully why social actors comply with norms. In this essay, I have examined the European human rights regime; a powerful argument has been made that rational choice approaches are necessary and sufficient for explaining why states comply with its injunctions. Yet, my Ukrainian case indicates that compliance at times occurs through dynamics that simply cannot be captured through standard rationalist accounts. Theoretical pluralism is thus necessary to explain this empirical reality. [95]

Second, my stress on synthesis intersects with a growing trend in IR theory, where there is a pronounced move away from an “either/or” orientation (either rational choice or constructivism) to a “both/and” perspective. This shift is seen in forums as diverse as the flagship journal of German IR, regime analysis, the 50th anniversary issue of International Organization and the work of prominent rationalists. Theoretical opponents, in other words, are spending less and less time hurtling meta-theoretical insults at each other, and, more and more, conducting an empirically informed dialogue, where tough issues of process, operationalization and scope are addressed. [96]


* Prepared for delivery at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Atlanta, Georgia, September 2-5, 1999. Copyright by the American Political Science Association. An earlier version was presented at the ECPR 27th Joint Sessions of Workshops, Mannheim, Germany, March 1999. For comments on previous drafts, I thank Emanuel Adler, Mike Barnett, Iain Johnston, Peter Katzenstein, Andy Moravcsik, Thomas Risse, Celeste Wallander and Michael Zuern. Special thanks also to Johan P. Olsen for helpful discussions on the issues raised here. The financial support of the Norwegian Research Council is gratefully acknowledged.

** ARENA/Universitetet i Oslo, P.O. Box 1143 Blindern, 0317 Oslo, Norway. Tel: (47) 22 85 56 97, Fax: (47) 22 85 78 32, E-mail:,web:

[1]. On this gap, often referred to as constructivism’s agency problem, see Moravcsik 1997, 539-40; Klotz and Lynch 1998, 18-19; and Gurowitz 1999, 413-19.

[2]. One recent review identifies the specification of such switching points as a central challenge facing students of norms. Finnemore and Sikkink 1998, 913.

[3]. “Methodological individualism” or simply “individualism” refer to an agent-centered view of social life, which asserts that all social phenomena are explicable in ways that only involve individual agents and their goals and actions; the starting point of the analysis is actors with given properties. Katzenstein 1996 is a good introduction to the first generation modernist constructivism. Post-structuralist and discourse-theoretic constructivists would likely deny the validity of this essay’s central focus -- mechanisms of social choice. See Milliken 1999, 230-31, passim, for example.

[4]. Compare Risse, Ropp and Sikkink 1999, with the studies cited in Chayes and Chayes 1993. On socialization, see Sigel 1965, 1; and Ikenberry and Kupchan 1990, 287-92. Underdal 1998, 6, passim; and Joerges and Zuern 1999 are excellent definitional introductions to the compliance literature.

[5]. Joerges and Zuern 1999, 9. My understanding of compliance is thus closest to what scholars term “the integrity of the law” and “managed compliance,” or “social learning” perspectives. See Joerges and Zuern 1999, 5-7; and Underdal 1998, 20-23, respectively.

[6]. Helpful surveys of the regime/regime-compliance literature include Rittberger 1995; Chayes and Chayes 1995, chapter 1; and Zuern 1998. On bargaining, see Joensson 1990, Introduction; and Zartman 1994, Part Two. For constructivism, see Adler 1997; and Ruggie 1998b.

[7]. On these points, see the excellent discussion in Levy, Young, Zuern 1995, 295, 304-306, 312-14. Also see Hasenclever, Mayer, Rittberger 1996, 177-205; and Underdal’s models “A” and “B” for explaining compliance, in Underdal 1998, 7-20.

[8]. Exemplars of the rationalist bargaining literature include Wagner 1988; and Fearon 1994. For critiques, which note how this work systematically brackets both social context and social interaction, see Risse 1998, 2-7; and Schoppa 1999, 311-12, 332-37.

[9]. See Ernst Haas 1990, chapter 2, passim; Adler 1997, 337-41; and Ruggie 1998b, 867-69, for example. Also see Underdal’s model “C,” in Underdal 1998, 20-23; and Peter Haas 1992. In the comparative literature, Heclo 1974, 305, passim, advances similar arguments.

[10]. Within the IR bargaining/compliance literature, see Chayes and Chayes 1993; Haas 1998, 30-33; and, especially, Schoppa 1999, passim. Early neo-functionalist work on the EU emphasized social context and interaction, but was marred by serious methodological and theoretical flaws. See Pollack 1998 for an excellent discussion. More recent efforts go some way towards correcting these problems -- Joerges and Neyer 1997a, b; Lewis 1998; Egeberg 1998; and Eriksen and Fossum 2000, for example.

[11]. By “heuristic approach,” I mean a claim that is intuitively or empirically plausible, but elaborated insufficiently -- operationalization of key concepts, causal relationship among posited variables -- to allow for empirical testing and, possibly, generalization to other contexts. On the methodological/theoretical problems within these non-rationalist IR and bargaining literatures, see Levy, Young, Zuern 1995, 306; Hasenclever, Mayer, Rittberger 1996, 212-13; Underdal 1998, 22; and, for examples demonstrating the frustrating disconnect between theory and empirical operationalization, Ernst Haas 1990, 138-54; Adler 1991; and Harald Mueller, “The Internalization of Principles, Norms and Rules by Governments: The Case of Security Regimes,” in Rittberger 1995, chapter 15. A similar heuristic approach still dominates in the non-rationalist EU compliance literature. See Checkel 1999c, 551, 556-57, for discussion.

[12]. Checkel 1998, 338-45. Also see Risse 1998, 5-7. Finnemore 1996 is a superb example of the strengths -- and weaknesses -- of such structural arguments.

[13]. See Cortell and Davis 1996 (on the US); and Moravcsik 1995 (on West Europe), for example.

[14]. Klotz 1995a, b; Koh 1997, Part III, passim; Keck and Sikkink 1998, passim; and Gurowitz 1999, for example.

[15]. For evidence of norms constituting domestic societal agents, see Wapner 1995. Compare this constitutive dynamic with the rationalist accounts in Ron 1997; and Gurowitz 1999, 415, 418, 424, passim.

[16]. Risse, Ropp and Sikkink 1999, chapter 1, passim; see also Keck and Sikkink 1998, 3, 28-29.

[17]. One sees hints of this fusion in Klotz 1995a, b. However, it becomes explicit only in more recent work -- for example, Keck and Sikkink 1998, chapter 1; Klotz and Lynch 1998, 22; and Risse, Ropp and Sikkink 1999, passim. Special thanks to Mimi Keck, Sid Tarrow and Dan Thomas for helpful discussions on SML.

[18]. On thin rationalism, see Green and Shapiro 1994, 17-19. Regarding this characterization of SML, let me be clear. While the literature has moved well beyond the once dominant resource mobilization model, with its clear rational choice micro-foundation, it is nonetheless striking how much of SML either remains premised on individualist ontologies and consequentialist choice mechanisms, or is unclear when it attempts to go beyond such assumptions -- for example, discussions of strategic, calculating agents exploiting “political opportunity structures,” of instrumentally-motivated actors striving to create “collective action frames,” of the cost/benefit calculations leading to the construction of “cultural frames,” etc. See McAdam 1982, chapters 2-3; Carol Mueller, “Building Social Movement Theory,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 4-16, 22; William Gamson, “The Social Psychology of Collective Action,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 54-67, 71-72; Bert Klandermans, “The Social Construction of Protest and Multiorganizational Fields,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 79-81; David Snow and Robert Benford, “Master Frames and Cycles of Protest,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 136-51; Debra Friedman and Doug McAdam, “Collective Identity and Activism,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 157-69; Aldon Morris, “Political Consciousness and Collective Action,” in Morris and Mueller 1992, 351, 369-72; Tarrow 1998, chapter 11, passim; and Idem 1999.

[19]. To be fair, where to draw the line between individualist and social ontologies is no easy task once we move beyond meta-theoretical ideal types. All the same, to talk of strategic actors seeking to change the utility of other agents, and to do so without specifying an intervening process of social interaction, strikes me as individualist. On strategic social construction, see Keck and Sikkink 1998, 4-5; and, especially, Finnemore and Sikkink 1998, 910-11. For recent empirical work informed by such a perspective, see Hawkins 1997, 407-409, passim; the case studies in Keck and Sikkink 1998; and Barnett 1999, 15-16, passim. Also see Schimmelfennig’s discussion of “rhetorical action” -- the strategic/manipulative use of norms and arguments by rational agents to modify collective outcomes. Schimmlfennig 1999, 2, passim.

[20]. A recent review of the Keck and Sikkink volume makes a similar point. Hawkins 1999, 121-22.

[21]. See, respectively, Mueller, in Morris and Mueller, 1992, 12-13; Sidney Tarrow, “Mentalities, Political Cultures and Collective Action Frames,” in Morris and Mueller, 1992, 175, 197; and Klandermans, in Morris and Mueller, 1992, 100.

[22]. Indeed, Risse and his collaborators are explicit that their multi-stage compliance/socialization model, which accords analytic primacy to domestic and transnational social actors at early stages, assumes rogue/authoritarian states. Risse, Ropp, Sikkink 1999, chapter ??.

[23]. On this social learning mechanism, see Soysal 1994; Risse-Kappen 1995; Finnemore 1996; Adler and Barnett 1998, 41-45, chapter 4; and Price 1998, for example.

[24]. Among many others, see Becker 1996, chapters 8-9. Thanks to Gerald Schneider and Bernard Steunenberg for discussions on the points raised here and in the following paragraphs.

[25]. Calvert 1995, 256-58, passim, for example. Exemplars of rationalist studies of learning include Sargent 1993, chapter 1, passim; Lupia and McCubbins 1998, chapter 2, passim; and, within IR, Farkas 1998, which represents one of the most sophisticated and rigorous rational-choice efforts to theorize learning to date. Helpful reviews of such work include Michael Cohen and Lee Sproull, “Introduction,” in Cohen and Sproull 1996; and Farkas 1998, 22-32. Johnson 1993 provides an excellent and balanced discussion of the theoretically incomplete role accorded communication in such analyses. On simple learning, also see Levy 1994.

[26]. Cohen and Sproull 1996, passim; and Farkas 1998, 32-40 survey the non-rationalist and social learning literatures.

[27]. These hypotheses derive from a number of sources: Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, 45-48; DiMaggio and Powell 1991, passim; Peter Haas 1990, 1992; Hall 1993; Risse-Kappen 1996; Sim Sitkin, “Learning Through Failure: The Strategy of Small Losses,” in Cohen and Sproull 1996, chapter 23; and Checkel 1997a, chapters 1, 5. As proposition #4 should make clear, I do not subscribe to “efficiency” notions of learning, which would lead one to argue the opposite, namely, that larger, less insulated groups, by offsetting various individual biases, will lead to better, more optimal policies. Farkas 1998, 39-40.

[28]. While students of the EU have begun to explore how a greater use of qualified majority voting affects the Union’s collective international negotiation position, they have yet to consider whether such rules affect internal bargaining dynamics among the member states -- Jupille 1999, for example.

[29]. On the last point, see Farkas 1998, 35-36. For the quotes, see Scott Cook and Dvora Yanow, “Culture and Organizational Learning,” in Cohen and Sproull 1996, 440-53. Also see Herbert Simon, “Bounded Rationality and Organizational Learning,” in Cohen and Sproull 1996, 177; and Barbara Levitt and James March, “Organizational Learning,” in Cohen and Sproull 1996, 518.

[30]. Finnemore 1996, chapter 2, passim. The absence of social interaction is due to Finnemore’s use of a so-called “bracketing strategy,” a point to which I return in the conclusions. Also see Price 1998, 617, 621-23, 627, 639, where the author improves upon Finnemore by emphasizing social processes of persuasion in the learning dynamic, but then fails to empirically validate their importance.

[31]. Perloff 1993, 14. My analysis here and below draws upon Riker 1986; Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, chapters 4-6; Brody, Mutz and Sniderman 1996, chapters 1, 5-6; and Lupia and McCubbins 1998, chapter 3. Work on manipulative persuasion, with its individualism and emphasis on calculating, strategic agency, has not surprisingly been picked up by several rational-choice scholars -- for example, Gibson 1998, 819, passim; and Moravcsik 1999, 272, 281.

[32]. On the last point, see Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, 21-30.

[33]. Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, 37; Brody, Mutz, Sniderman 1996, 8; and Cobb and Kuklinski 1997, 96. More recently, two rational choice scholars have advanced a rigorous and deductively sound set of scope conditions for persuasion. However, this clarity comes at a steep price -- namely, stripping all social context from the process of persuasion, which is my central concern here. Lupia and McCubbins 1998, chapters 1-3.

[34]. Joergensen, Kock, Roerbech 1998, 283. Also see Cobb and Kuklinski 1997, 116; and Gibson 1998, 846.

[35]. Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, 225.

[36]. Support for this deduction seems particularly robust in the persuasion literature; see Zimbardo and Leippe 1991, 144-53; Brody, Mutz, Sniderman 1996, 161-62; Gibson 1998, 833, 835; and Schoppa 1999, 309-10. Further theoretical backing comes from work on role conflict in cognitive/social psychology (Goffman 1974, chapter 10; Stryker 1980; Barnett 1993), cultural matches in sociology (Meyer and Strang 1993) and role/identity perceptions in institutional theory (Egeberg 1998, 2-5).

[37]. Joergensen, Kock and Roerbech 1998, 287. Also see Johnston 1998a, 16-25; Lupia and McCubbins 1998, 55; and Schoppa 1999, 312-13.

[38]. Joergensen, Kock and Roerbech 1998, 297 (for quote); and Brody, Mutz, Sniderman 1996, 154.

[39]. The logic here is straightforward: A more politicized, less insulated and thus “noisy” setting makes it less likely that the conditions laid out in propositions #5 and, especially, #8 will be fulfilled, thus decreasing the effectiveness of argumentative persuasion. On these points, also see Frost and Makarov 1998, 776; and Pierson 1993, 617-18.

[40]. For the practitioner-scholar quotes, see Chayes and Chayes 1995, 25-26.

[41]. Underdal 1998, 23; and Checkel 1998, respectively. To better operationalize “uncertain environments,” analysts may benefit by employing Zuern’s recent (1998, 629-30) suggestion to distinguishing among differing dimensions of uncertainty and contexts in which it arises.

[42]. My arguments here thus dovetail with Hurd’s excellent, problem-driven discussion of the multiple processes through which compliance occurs. Hurd 1999, 401, passim. On constructivism’s relational ontology, see Ruggie 1998a, 4.

[43]. George and McKeown 1985. Also see Wohlforth 1998, 658, 673-70; and McKeown 1999, 173-74, passim.

[44]. On the importance of panel samples in persuasion research, also see Brody, Mutz, Sniderman 1996, 2.

[45]. On the legitimacy and feasibility of these first three techniques, also see Hurd 1999, 382, 390-92; and Zuern 1997, 298-302, where he likewise argues for “using documents” and “asking experts” when one wants to establish agent interests independent of behavior, a methodological challenge analogous to the one faced here.

[46]. On institutionalization and the political influence of norms and other ideational variables, see Longstreth 1992; Katzenstein 1993; and Goldstein 1993.

[47]. On triangulation and norms, also see Raymond 1997, 219-222.

[48]. On emulation, often referred to as “mimetic processes,” see DiMaggio and Powell 1991, 69-70.

[49]. For the quote, see Hurd 1999, 392 (emphasis in original). Also see Johnston 1998a; and Wendt 1999, chapter ?, who provide excellent critiques/discussions on the role of “as if” assumptions and of the choice-theoretic view on preference formation.

[50]. The Strasbourg case is fully documented in Checkel 1999a, 94-96; and Idem 1999c; the German case in Checkel 1999a, 96-107; and the Ukrainian study in Checkel 1999b.

[51]. My Strasbourg/CE field work was conducted in four rounds: May 1994, June-July 1995, April 1997 and November 1998.

[52]. The persuaders were the Swiss, Italian and Austrian representatives. See Interviews: Horst Schade, former Secretary to the Committee, May 1994, June-July 1995, November 1998; GianLuca Esposito, current Secretary to the Committee, June-July 1995, April 1997, November 1998; and Ambassador Ulrich Hack, Head, Permanent Representation of Austria to the Council of Europe and former Chair of the Committee, November 1998. Also see Council of Europe 1993; and Idem 1994, which are meeting summaries that broadly confirm the interviewees’ accounts.

[53]. This individual was the German representative, whom I interviewed on two separate occasions. Also see Interviews, as in preceding note, for confirmation of my account here.

[54]. Kerremans 1996, 221. Kerremans makes this observation with respect to the EU; however, I would argue it holds equally well for cognitive regime theory and constructivism. Also see Zuern 1998, 630-32.

[55]. Field work for the German case was conducted in four rounds: March 1995, June-August 1995, May 1996, August 1996 - January 1998.

[56]. Martina Keller, “Einbuergern, Ausbuergern, Einbuergern,” Die Zeit, March 27, 1997.

[57]. For background, see Kanstroom 1993.

[58]. Kreuzer 1997, 2.

[59]. A number of empirical constructivist studies have also documented the importance of domestic normative barriers in the compliance process -- Adler 1987; Sikkink 1991; and Klotz 1995b, chapter 7, for example.

[60]. See Jochen Buchsteiner, “Konzepte, die erst reifen muessen,” Die Zeit, November 18, 1994; Interview, Thomae-Venske, Commissioner for Foreigners' Affairs, Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg, May 1996; and GermNews, January 7, 1999. For the flyer, see “Handreichung zum Thema: Doppelte Staatsbuergerschaft” (Berlin, 1995).

[61]. See “Unser Ziel: 1 Million Unterschriften fuer die doppelte Staatsbuergerschaft” (Berlin, no date); Interviews, Ismail Kosan, Member of the Berlin Parliament, Buendnis 90/Die Gruenen Fraction, May 1996; Andreas Schulze, Staff Member, Office of F.O. Wolf, German Member of the European Parliament, Berlin, May 1996.

[62]. “Informationen zum deutschen Staatsbuergerrecht: Doppelstaatsbuergerschaften” (Berlin, no date).

[63]. Checkel 1999a, 102-104, documents the constraining role these norms played in the compliance decisions of many German elite policymakers. My German study thus provides strong confirming evidence for Moravcsik’s rationalist explanation for state compliance with norms of the European human rights regime. Moravcsik 1995.

[64]. On these changes, see Koalitionsvertrag 1998, Teil IX; “No More Reforms of Citizenship Code for Now,” GermNews, March 16, 1999; and Ralph Atkins, “Ambitious Plans for Reform Run into Trouble,” Financial Times, June 1, 1999. For overview and background, see “Germany: Citizenship, Asylum,” Migration News 5 (December 1998); “Der Kampf um die Paesse,” Der Spiegel, January 11, 1999; and “Deutsche und Auchdeutsche,” Die Zeit, February 4, 1999.

[65]. “Opposition Parties Clash over Citizenship Plans,” Financial Times, January 5, 1999; and, for the Eichel quote, “Germany: Dual Nationality Change,” Migration News 6 (March 1999). For other analyses that stress this deeper, normative element in the debate, see “Kampagne gegen Doppel-Staatsbuergerschaft: FDP laesst die Union allein,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, January 5/6, 1999; and John Schmid, “Germany Searches Soul with Debate on Citizenship,” International Herald Tribune, February 4, 1999. Given these emotional/normative realities, it comes as no surprise that, when the Bundestag eventually passed the revised citizenship statute in May 1999, nearly 40% of its deputies voted against or abstained. “Germany: Option Model Approved,” Migration News 6 (June 1999).

[66]. Also see the Ukrainian case below. More generally on the linkages between elite turnover and normative change, see Stein 1994, 162-63, passim.

[67]. Freeman 1998, 101-104; and Joppke 1998. I thank Andy Moravcsik, Fritz Scharpf and Rey Koslowski for discussion on these points.

[68]. Gurowitz 1999, 416-417, comes to a similar conclusion, giving greater analytic primacy to domestic factors over systemic norms in her study of changing German nationality/immigration policy.

[69]. Interviews, Directorate of Human Rights, Council of Europe, April 1997, November 1998. Also see Mendelson 1998. My Ukrainian fieldwork was conducted in two rounds: May 1994; June 1997.

[70]. Markus 1996a, 1996b; and “Ukraine: Founding Father,” The Economist, July 6, 1996.

[71]. Interviews, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Kyiv, May 1994; Political Directorate, Council of Europe, April 1997. In April 1998, Tarasyuk was appointed to the post of Foreign Minister.

[72]. Interviews, Petro Chaliy, Head, Citizenship Department, Presidential Administration, Kyiv, June 1997; Valeriy Hrebenyuk, Chief Advisor for International Law and Organizations, Directorate of Foreign Policy, Presidential Administration, Kyiv, June 1997. On the statist nature of Ukrainian political institutions, see Carlsen and Gorchinskaya 1998; and Burakovsky 1999.

[73]. Interviews, as in two preceding notes; and Halyna Freeland, Counsel to the Chairman, Ukrainian Legal Foundation, Kyiv, June 1997. On moral or norm entrepreneurs, see Finnemore 1996; Florini 1996, 375; and Finnemore and Sikkink 1998, 896-901.

[74]. Interview, Nikolay Kulinich, Ukrainian Institute of International Relations, Kyiv, May 1994.

[75]. Interviews, as in notes 71-73. Chaliy thus appears representative of the broader Ukrainian populace, where surveys consistently reveal a similar lack of deeply held views on nationality and ethnicity -- Korshak and Sych 1998, for example.

[76]. In aggregate terms, differing degrees of noviceness also partly account for the variance in my German and Ukrainian results. The former appears as an old and established country when compared to Ukraine; put differently, Germans are more likely to carry cognitive priors that will impede persuasion/learning (H#6).

[77]. For the analysis here and below, see Interviews, Natalie Belitser, Coordinator, Center for Pluralism, Pylyp Orlyk Institute for Democracy, Kyiv, June 1997; Halyna Freeland and Natalia Kravets, Counsel to the Chairman and Executive Director, respectively, Ukrainian Legal Foundation, Kyiv, June 1997; Olga Kornienko, Program Coordinator, Ukrainian Center for Human Rights, Kyiv, June 1997; Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Director, Center for Information and Documentation of the Council of Europe in Ukraine, Kyiv, June 1997; and Serhiy Holovatiy, Ukrainian Minister of Justice, Kyiv, June 1997. On press passivity, also see Carlsen and Gorchinskaya 1998.

[78]. Also see “Human Rights Organization Officially Registered,” Kiev UNIAN, August 15, 1994, as reported in FBIS-SOV-94-157, August 15, 1994, which documents the prolonged efforts of one human rights NGO simply to gain recognition from the Ukrainian state.

[79]. Chrystia Freeland, “Ukraine Justice Minister Sacked,” Financial Times, August 22, 1997. My analysis here intersects with that of Bob 1998, who has also argued for more attention to the strategic incentives of domestic NGOs as an important supplement to the more standard constructivist account, where transnational networks “reach down” and select certain national NGOs as partners.

[80]. Risse, Ropp, Sikkink 1999, for example. See Moravcsik 1995 for the rational-choice argument.

[81]. Similar incentives were at work in the late Soviet era and explain why Gorbachev and his allies failed to take steps to prevent what came to pass once he left office: the rapid demise of his liberal foreign policy. Checkel 1999b.

[82]. The logic here is similar to what two-level game theorists call “involuntary defection,” where the structure of domestic interests makes it rational for a state agent to defect from an agreement he/she prefers; in my case, it is the structure of domestic institutions that leads to such an unwanted outcome. On the two-level game logic, see Evans, Jacobson, Putnam 1993, 440-42; on the institutional logic, see Cortell and Peterson 1999, chapter 1. My comments on more recent developments in Ukraine draw upon numerous interviews. See Note 77 above; as well as Interviews, Council of Europe Secretariat, April 1997, November 1998. For general overviews of the deteriorating human rights situation in Kyiv, see “Language Issue Could Haunt Kuchma During Election,” Financial Times, May 25, 1999; and Hyde 1999.

[83]. On Ukraine and the death penalty, see Interviews, Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Director, Center for Information and Documentation of the Council of Europe in Ukraine, Kyiv, June 1997; Council of Europe Secretariat, April 1997; as well as “Keine Gnade fuer Moerder: Der Europarat protestiert, doch die Ukraine exekutiert,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, June 21/22, 1998; “Ukraine’s Membership in Council of Europe’s Assembly Threatened,” RFE/RL Newsline, January 29, 1999; and “Council of Europe Delays Decision on Ukraine,” RFE/RL Newsline, June 25, 1999.

[84]. The quoted words are employed regularly by CE officials. See, Interviews, Council of Europe Secretariat, April 1997, November 1998.

[85]. On the following, see Interviews: Andrew Drzemczewski, Head, and Markus Jaeger, Deputy Head, Secretary General’s Monitoring Unit, Council of Europe Secretariat, April 1997, November 1998. Also see Council of Europe 1997; and, especially, Idem 1998.

[86]. Council of Europe 1998, 10, 11, 19-21 -- quotes at pp.20-21. Also see Interviews, as in previous note.

[87]. Johnston 1998a. Thanks to Celeste Wallander of Harvard University for spurring me to explore this conditionality/compliance nexus. On Ukraine’s moratorium, see “Kuchma Asks Parliament to Abolish Death Penalty,” RFE/RL Newsline, December 21, 1998.

[88]. On the bracketing strategy, see Wendt 1987, 364-65.

[89]. See Price 1998 (social learning); Johnston 1998a, b (persuasion, social influence); and Risse 1998 (arguing and communicative rationality).

[90]. For the quote, see Axel Van Den Berg, “Is Sociological Theory too Grand for Social Mechanisms?,” in Hedstroem and Swedberg 1998, 212. Risse 1998 provides an excellent summary of the German IR/Habermas debate. This challenge of operationalization is real: To date, all “empirical” applications of Habermas of which I am aware are at best heuristic and suggestive -- for example, Reus-Smit 1997, 564, 569-70, passim; and Lewis 1998, 499, passim. Thanks to Michael Zuern for discussion on these points.

[91]. See Martin and Simmons 1998, passim; and Zuern 1998, 630-42, respectively.

[92]. In Checkel 1999a, I elaborate this domestic structures argument in greater detail.

[93]. The domestic structures literature is closely related to historical institutionalism, and the latter is deeply split between a rationalist (Paul Pierson, say) and constructivist branch (Katzenstein).

[94]. Thanks to Mike Barnett, Iain Johnston and Johan P. Olsen for discussions on these points.

[95]. See Moravcsik 1995; and Checkel 1997b, respectively.

[96]. See Risse 1998; Underdal 1998; the essays by Katzenstein/Keohane/Krasner, Finnemore/Sikkink, Kahler and March/Olsen, all in International Organization 52 (Autumn 1998); and Laitin 1998, respectively.


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