Presentation on theme: "Structure and Agency in Foreign Policy Analysis"— Presentation transcript:
1Structure and Agency in Foreign Policy Analysis Week 8: Concepts and Approaches in Politics and International Relations
2The Agent-Structure Debate What is the agent-structure debate?Structure: ‘the sets of factors which make up the multiple environments in which agents operate, and they shape the nature of choices, by setting limits to the possible but also, more profoundly, by determining the nature of the problems which offer there by shaping our very life-worlds’.‘The political, bureaucratic and social structures which condition foreign policy-making are of vital importance.’ Here, Hill is on one hand breaking away from the realist perspective while on the other listing relevant structures.
3The Agent-Structure Debate What is the agent-structure debate?Agency: ‘Agents are the entities capable of decisions and actions in any given context. They may be single individuals or collectives and they may be characterised by conscious intentions or by patterns of behaviour which at least in part do not result from deliberation.’
4Implications of the Agency-Structure Debate We can talk about the agent-structure debate in two different ways.One is the unit of analysis.Units help us divide the world while actors have independent will and exorcise decision-making.The other is modes of explanation.Foreign policy making is a complex process of interaction between many actors, differentially embedded in a wide range of different structures. Thus, a relationship between the two.
5Theory and Agency-Structure Neo-realism: Structure determines behaviourLiberalism/Pluralism: Agency mattersConstructivism: link between agency and structure, mutually determinedThe agency-structure debate has been good for foreign policy analysis. Hill states that the issues of causation, freedom and determinism have been brought back onto the agenda of international relations.
6FPA and Agency-Structure Where does FPA sit in this scheme?Between positivism and constructivismOn one hand, we can rely on empirical knowledge to explain events and even make predictions at times.On the other hand, we conclude that there is a limit to how much we can generalise from this empirical data.
7FPA and Agency-Structure Where does FPA sit in this scheme?‘Freewill’ and Rationality: two viewsChoice is illusory given the power of historical forces on the other.While individuals do originate action, they are limited in their options by their preferences and environment (i.e. Structures)
8Foreign policy and the State Agency-structure in the international system meet most usually at the level of the state.Thus, we need to have an idea what we mean by the state because this makes a difference as to where foreign policy starts and stops.Also, International politics is about how the state behaves at the international level and thus understanding how the state behaves at the domestic level is key to linking the domestic with the international.
9Foreign policy and the State What is the role of the state in international politics?Issue of SovereigntyForeign policy exists in the space created by ‘states’ existence and by their lack of omnipotence.’The role of the state is to mediate the impact of the external on the domestic and to find ways of projecting a particular set of concerns in a very intractable world. It depends on sovereignty not being extinguished where it already exists, but otherwise is more linked to the existence of a distinguishable set of domestic interests, which vary independently of the given of sovereign statehood.Ultimately foreign policy rests on the effectiveness of the state at home and abroad
10Approaches to the State Two types of approaches to the state:Outside-in: states evolved as part of regional power politicsInside-out: states are essentially the product of a social contract to engage in common cause‘No interpretation of the state which fails to bind the domestic and the international aspects together can be very convincing.’
11The State and IRThe international system is still anarchical and thus states must retain armies to defend the state in a self-help systemIn a complicated international system, we need states to provide identity, direction and agency.The state offers protection of ‘private space’, that is the capacity to regulate or protect social behaviour and traditions.Liberal realism:[PIR1] ‘this approach wishes the democratic state to survive but also to grow and to promote constitutional values internationally, so that inter-state, and also inter-societal relations can be conducted on a basis of secure and cooperative diversity, with the state as an important source of order held in common, not least because of a converging understanding of what statehood entails.’ [PIR1]Liberal realismwhile the position of the state has weakened over time, it still remains the key agent of international politics and will continue to be so.
12Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy Inherent link between the domestic and internationalInternational determinants of foreign policyDomestic determinants of foreign policyRobert Putnam: the logic of two-level of gamesEx: Trade negotiations
13Questions about the State Should we restrict foreign policy to that only done by states or can other units have a foreign policy?Should foreign and defence policy be delegated almost wholly to a small elite, on the grounds that dealings with other states requires secrecy, continuity, experience and personal contacts? If so, what does say about democracy or popular sovereignty?Whose interests are served by a state’s foreign policy?
14Expectation of Foreign Policy Whose interests are served by a state’s foreign policy?Protecting citizens abroadProjecting identity abroad‘Homeostasis’ or the maintenance of territorial integrity and social peace against external threatsAdvancing prosperityMaking decisions on interventions abroadNegotiating a stable international orderProtecting the global commons (Environmentalism, global security (broadly defined))Chris Hill states: ‘in practice it is difficult to live up to this injunction, and it is part of the task of the foreign policy analyst to trace diverging patterns of expectations and measure any capability-expectations gaps which may arise.’