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Jepperson, Wendt, and Katzenstein: Norms, identity, and culture in national security

Disclaimer. Don't rely on these old notes in lieu of reading the literature, but they can jog your memory. As a grad student long ago, my peers and I collaborated to write and exchange summaries of political science research. I posted them to a wiki-style website. "Wikisum" is now dead but archived here. I cannot vouch for these notes' accuracy, nor can I say who wrote them.

Jepperson, Wendt, and Katzenstein. 1996. Norms, identity, and culture in national security. In Culture and National Security, ed. Katzenstein, pp. 33-75.

IR has long been characterized by two frames of analysis: neorealism and neoliberalism. The authors see weaknesses in both and seek to establish a new, third frame, which they dub sociological institutionalism. This chapter makes two primary arguments.

First, it seeks to add cultural and institutional factors to our conception of a material security environment. They see at least "three layers to the international cultural environments in which national security policies are made." First, the formal institutions/security regimes (NATO, OSCE, SALT/CWC, etc.). Second, a world political culture that structures how our ideas about sovereignty, international law, how diplomacy is carried out, etc. Third, there are cultural dimensions to "international patterns of amity and enmity." Theories based on material power cannot explain why the US loves Canada and hates Cuba, for they have similar levels of military power.

Second, this chapter argues that this global "cultural environment affects not only the incentives for different kinds of state behavior but also the basic character of states--what we call state 'identity'." State character is not merely a function of domestic politics. It is influenced by the cultural environment. There are "at least three effects that external cultural environments may have on state identities and thus on national security interests and politics." First, these external environments "may affect states' prospects for survival" in the first place. States that don't conform might be selected out. Second, environments can change the "modal character of statehood" over time. E.g. changing norms have made warfare less acceptable. Third, "cultural environments" can change the "character of statehood within a given international system," e.g. from an imperial state identity to a "trading state" identity after WWII (Germany and Japan). Page 36.

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Jepperson, Ronald (author)Wendt, Alexander (author)Katzenstein, Peter (author)International RelationsStatesCultureIdentityNormsConstructivismUnits and Actors

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