Identity Formation and the Development of National Interest

Constructivism – Ideas, Identity and Foreign Policy

China has been rising rapidly since the implication of “reform and open-door” policy in 1978. During the thirty years, China became the second largest economic power with $8.3 trillion GDP and growth rate of 7.8% in 2013. The income per capital is 6000$. On the political side, China has been taking actions on reform domestically and taking part in the international activities. Military, cultural as well as technology have been developed. Most important of this fact is that China consistently adopting the “peaceful rise” strategy which seeks a new regional structure of mutual trust, cooperation and mutual beneficial.

This essay will explain China’s rise process in Constructivism approach.

Realism, liberalism and Constructivism are the three important theories of international relations. Under Realism, there is a game of super power states to survive. The rise of China is reasonable seen as a threat regarding its growing political, economic and military capabilities. Neighbour states should be cautious about the “unsatisfied China” (网) to transform the regional system. Liberalism argues that the increase of economic interdependence will increase of economic interdependence will decrease the likelihood of political conflicts (21111). Due to the high opportunity cost, violence could be avoided to maintain each country’s material interests. These two theories focus on visible facts in the international relations; while there is invisible factors should be highlighted.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Find out more

Social Constructivism is an important approach in explain international relation with “a starting point of human behaviour” and unconsciously follows cultural and historical norms; meanwhile, compared with other “materialistic theories” who regard countries are “unitary actors” to maximise their power, constructivists see countries as “social actors” that may follow both material power comparison and international rules.(32) Wendt thinks that the international structure would influences both national behaviour and identity, interest. Two important spheres should be highlighted in the ongoing international structures—-the national identity and structural change for a certain region.(再补充)

National Identity of China

In the international society (rather than international system (b1,193)), national identity is an important role for the regional security,(45) Wdent, one of the most prominent constructivists, defines identity is “a property of international actors that generates motivational and behavioural dispositions'”(wdent 1999,224 cited in36) and is a “relatively stable, role-specific understandings and expectations about self”(Wdent,1999,21 cited in 36). National identity is crucial in the international relations that matters foreign policy making as well as the interaction between Self and Other. (b1, 197)

Under the constructivism view, East Asia is a society of states with various national images among which China is quite unique since it has been 行走 in so called “Chinese Model” for about forty years. A better understanding of China’s national identity is based on the application of Wendt’s four identities categories (b2,224-233).

First, “corporate identity” of China argues the “essential properties” that rarely changes. Domestically, no matter which kind of political regime is applied, government policies are deeply influenced by thousands-year Confucian morality which values “harmony and prosperity”(Culture Revolution from 1966 to 1976 is an exception and an extreme case in very special situation). The huge population of 1.3 billion from 56 ethnic groups and large geographic territory helps China to achieve a successful domestic market but regard domestic stability of first importance.

Second, “type identity” is corresponding to “regime type” which reflects “self-organising and social quality”(b2,226). Stated in 1982 Constitution, “The People’s Republic of Chinais a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants.” Even though the word “democratic” is always ignored by foreign scholars, the tight central control does not mean an arbitrary all the time, nor does it possible in the globalising process. “Marxism with Chinese characters” is the main doctrine (47), as a result, the so called “arbitrary governance” is actually a Chinese style governance based on social reality rather than the compelling aspiration from a single party, it is the lesson learned from massive history from 1959 to 1976. On economic aspect, China now is applying a two-track system of “socialist plus market economy with Chinese characteristics(once again)”, which has led to huge achievements in last two decades. Chinese develop process has constructed the “Beijing Consensus” that draws many attention from the world.

Third, the following two national identity categories–“role”联系到第二种æ-‡åŒ- and “collective identity” are more important in this article because they are closely related to interactions with foreign countries and contribute to structural change in a long-term. China’s rise is a continuing process, so collective identity would be discussed in the next section. Wendt (b2,227-228) argues that role identity cannot realised by oneself, but “carry Others around with us in our heads”. In the international society, role identity is based on the “degree of interdependence…of Self and Others”.

Corresponding to the rising China, is the increasing cultural, political and economic interactions with East Asia countries. This raises the question to many countries that whether China is a status quo power. Though status quo and revisionist power are two concepts under realism’s power transition theory, they are vital in constructivism by showing that how would neighbour countries identify China and to interpret their further foreign policies in the region. For this question, Chinese foreign policies such as neighbour friendly and peace-loving would make sense if there is a positive answer. However, “China Threat” idea, which indicates an unsatisfied and revisionist China, is also widespread and seems quite convinced. Numbers of literatures have been discussing about the problem and Johnston(49) summarised that China for now is generally a status quo power while seeking a more favourable international system in a moderate method, a revisionist situation would occur when territory dispute and Taiwan dilemma are heavily intensified. Back to the theme of the article, a status quo power is more aligned with China’s peace rise strategy.

Wendt also find the constructive approach to describe the undergoing situation of China in East Asia. He(1999) promotes three kinds cultures–Hobbesian culture, Lockean culture, Kantian Culture with dominant roles of “enemy, rival, and friend” respectively to illustrate the tendency of an anarchic system. Since Hobbesian is naturally related to the realism theory of a “hard” world (b2,259) and the high level coherence in Kantian culture (there is no need for any discussion if China and other East Asian countries are already morally good friends), Kantian Culture is applicable in East Asia, furthermore, Wendt himself also agree the “status quo” is implicit in such culture(279). It is a shared idea for every East Asian country recognise others’ “sovereignty, life and liberty”(279),even for small countries like those ASEAN members, sovereignty and rights are recognised by others, however, there is no guarantee in East Asia that violence will disappear, especially concerning the territory disputes between China-Japan on Diaoyu Island and South China Sea Dispute. Rivalry also admits the uncertainty of Others but denied the realist approach to “prepare for the worst” because they are not enemies. The reactions of China and neighbour countries just reflect Wendt’s policy implication of Lockean culture. The avoidance of hot conflict with Japan and “dispute suspend, development” policy with ASEAN members are examples for “behave in a status quo toward each other’s sovereignty” and “High-risk aversion”(282). On the other hand, military power is still important, this is could be seen from China’s “deep-blue” navy development and more frequent Japan, Philippine’s joint military exercise with the United States since 2010. As Wendt notes, rivals limit rather than delete violence.

Projecting China’s new identity and Changing East Asian’s Structure

The section above has defined China as a big developing power with unique Chinese characteristics and a status quo country in the region. This kind of image would more or less provide confidence for East Asian’s future, as Wendt argues, even though it is too difficult to reach Kantian Culture, the situation will not go backward. In fact, China and its East Asian neighbours do put effort for a better regional system. To be specific, the constructivism task is to 缩小 “identity gap”(45中的第42注释) and then promote a collective identity. 定义!!

“Shared knowledge, material resources and practices” are the three components of a social structure (34), this norm reflects the society is composed of both objective and subjective knowledge and more importantly, it is a dynamic process of change. Mearsheimer gave one site on the change logic how social structure effect actions by “constituting actors with certain identities and interests” and Wendt add another site of interaction and reproduction of structures. Wendt thinks that there is much “slack” in the international structure which encourages policymakers work toward peaceful change.

To sum up, Identity and structural change is a matter of micro and macro level. New identity of one country would cause the collective identity change in that region, usually by way of foreign policy and interaction. This kind of “common in-group identity” and “we-feeling” would ultimately create a new regional structure.

China has been projecting a new national identity since the came out of “reform and open-up” grand policy in 1978 when “jieji douzheng” 阶级æ–争 is replaced by 实事求是 and development, it is corresponding to the national political and economic development. In general ,more actions are made from the 1990s when Overseas Propaganda Department under the Party Central Committee and a new Information Office under the State Council were established, there are many white papers with subjects of human rights, environment protection published, for example “1992 Tibet — Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation”,” 1996 Environmental Protection in China” and “1999 National Minorities Policy and Its Practice in China.(40) The change from avoidance or ignoring such issues to engagement indicates that China is beginning to think about the soft power development. Cultural and media communication event is another method to promote Chinese new image and the hiring of a American firm in the 2008 Olympic Game is a case in this point. A research by Hongying Wang(介绍作者)shows that “China’s self-conception in international affairs” consist with “These four national images — a peace-loving nation, victim of foreign aggression, anti-hegemonic force and developing country”. Though there is still difference from other’s perception, this project does makes China 顺利的 in foreign affairs.(40)

“Good neighbour policy”(41) is the core theme for East Asia. In the 1950s, though Chairman Mao had adopted “leaning to one side” as grand foreign policy, “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence” was proposed as the main doctrine in Asian affairs especial with third world countries. During the 1990s to 2010s, the main period of China’s rise, China adopted “Deng Xiaoping’s“Tao guang yang hui, you suo zuo wei ” to “active defence of China’s interests… and not try to be either a hegemon or challenger to one” as well as to be a “participant or co-builder” that “contribute to the construction of a New International Order”.(41) After established the diplomatic relations with neighbour countries like Indonesian, Singapore and South Korea, China gradually find the importance on multilateral means for the common interests. From the late 1990s, China has been promoting “the democratisation of international relations” in the New international Order. Accord with Wendt’s emphasise of verbal communication, terms like “shelve difference”, “common grounds”, “peaceful”, “multi-polar” are frequently seen from Chinese foreign policy papers.

Find out how can help you!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Apart from foreign policies, China has been passion about participating in regional activities. For Southeast Asia, China formalised its interaction with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1991, and became a regular dialogue partner in 1996 which led to ASEAN plus Three (Japan, India and China) and ASEAN plus China. Joining in China-ASEAN Free Trade Area and ASEAN Regional Forum reflects increasing economic and political interaction. For Northeast, efforts put on both bilateral relationship with Japan and South Korea, as well multilateral relations on whole region, the Six-Party Talks and the “Track II” Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue (NEACD) strengthen its “involvement in Northeast Asian affairs”(41).

The effort and interaction would significantly influence the future of East Asia. Besides the huge economic gains and the general peaceful environment, on the constructivism aspect, the interactions would cause a collective identity of “We” in East Asia that has more confidence in dealing regional affairs peacefully.

Countries are more interdependent which could be seen from the data and interaction facts above. China’s engagement in East Asia would also create the common fate with its neighbours because it is impossible for China to escape from any international events, especially the for non-traditional security problems.

Nevertheless, there is also “fear of exploitation”, just as skeptics judging China’s peaceful rise is “buying time”, however, in the long term, the worry can be overcomed since the gain is reduced compared with a high level of interdependence and states has already internalised the collective identity at that time. (b2,349).

In order to be more accepted by neighbour countries during communication, China has been working on eliminating the regime differences in proper areas. Under the principle of 1982 Constitution (socialist country led by Chinese Communist Party) and general domestic stability, more authority is distributed to local units as well as marketised several areas of economy aligned with the international market. These efforts are building the “homogeneity or alikeness” to other countries that China is, the same as any else, a developing country needs a peaceful environment. Homogeneity would have 显è‘-地 effect on military development which decrease the uncertainty for China’s bullying action (even though China will never do that).

The trend of a Kantian Culture in East Asia also benefits for everyone, to say that if the cooperation now is coloured with much material interests in Realism, but would change in a long period. The impact of structure on the agent could be seen from the ASEAN involvement of China in the very early stage. (32) When China became the candidate of regional hegemony, ASEAN posed a “wide range of diplomatic initiatives” contrary to realist way to intensify the dilemma that “welcome” China as a friend. Even though met many difficulties in the multilateral approach, significant achievement is undeniable.

The structure change in East Asia is not as simple as we thought and we should consider the following points.

First, the historical stereotype. For a big power, national identity 紧密联系 with its historical legacy.(45) Wendt (34) also notes “history matters”. It is quite hard to breakdown old identity and emerge new identity (b2,228) and (38) agrees it is a long-term proposal. In modern political society, the socialism China spent about forty years establish a national identity of exclusive (especially towards capitalism countries), assertiveness (both inside and outside). This situation began with Mao’s “leaning to one side” to Soviet Union in the early Cold War and 高峰 in the Culture Revolution. After reform and open-up, China has been confronting with double difficulties of “China Threat view in west world” as well as breaking the former identity. These encourage China be intelligent in its friendly foreign policy but enhance its material power simultaneously.

Second, regime differences. China as the biggest socialist country in the world, its political and economic regime is till “mysterious” to many countries. Though China tight center control is gradually understood and accepted based on China’s achievements, so called “none-democratic society” is usually accused meeting sensitive cases, which makes it the biggest barrier for a homogeneity. On the contrary, Japan went through a better situation for its political revolution in the U.S. occupied period (45). However, this does not deny Japan’s other efforts of unmilitarisation, international assistance, etc. A westernised democratic regime helped it accepted easily psychologically.

Based on the content above, China should keep on its process of reform domestically and externally. Peaceful rise is the only way in so that new national identity could be internalised to every countries and a co-existence East Asia is built.


The understanding of China’s rise is a combination of realism, liberalism and constructivism. In the 2008 financial crisis, China’s soon recovery makes it stronger economic power and the assistance for neighbour countries also contribute to a country of responsibility and kindness. Constructivism also helps explained why East Asia is generally peaceful with numbers of disputes. Apart from the economic lose in liberalism view; the shared norm of mutual trust and peace-loving plays an important role.

China’s peaceful rise strategy is the achievement made by both China itself and other countries in the region. Their transforming attitude toward China form hostility to acceptance is a core condition for China’s proactive engagement.

Finally, in the East Asian society, the entire process of China’s rise is a “Spiral Model” (b1,198) that countries generate norms in the increasing interaction, and new norms and identities would result in a new regional structure that encourage the formation of interdependence, common fate and homogeneity. Even though there are obstacles, East Asian countries are 努力的 towards it.


In the analysis of international politics, the process of identity formation and how national interests are conceived should represent central issues, as they are inextricably linked to a state’s foreign policy. The importance of identities results from the fact that they perform two vital functions: expressing to the self and others who the self is, as well as expressing to the self who others are. Due to the first function, having a certain identity determines an associated set of preferences regarding the choices of action in various circumstances and when different actors are involved. That is why a state’s identity generates its interests and subsequent behaviour towards fellow members and situations related to the international system. The second function implies that a state perceives others according to the identities it attributes to them, while simultaneously reproducing its own identity through social interaction and practice (Tajfel, 1981:255). These notions have been conceptualised and emphasised in IR theory by constructivist scholars, who argue that global politics originates not only in the international system but also in an international society. Constructivists stress the constitutive effects of ideas and norms that set the parameters within which identities and interests are formulated (Brown and Ainley, 2003:49). When studying inter-state relations, it has become essential to analyse how ideas are created, how they evolve and influence states’ perceptions and response to their situation. In order to achieve such an objective, constructivism plays a key role by promoting the tenet that ‘the manner in which the material world shapes and is shaped by human action and interaction depends on dynamic normative and epistemic interpretations of the material world’ (Adler, 1997:322). From this perspective, constructivist frameworks show that even the most enduring institutions are based on collective understandings. Their important contribution to the study of IR lies mainly in emphasising the ontological reality of intersubjective knowledge, along with its epistemological and methodological implications. That is why constructivism argues international relations consist primarily of social facts, which have acquired such a status due to human agreement. They represent reified structures that were conceived ex nihilo by human consciousness, subsequently being diffused and consolidated until they were taken for granted (Adler, 1997:322-323).

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Find out more

Constructivist scholars also believe that actors attach meanings to and cognitively frame the material world as well as their experiences. So collective understandings or ‘the distribution of knowledge’ offer the reasons why certain elements are as they are, as well as the indications as to how actors should deploy their material capabilities (Wendt, 1992:397).

One might deduce from the previous statement that the context of collective meanings structures the preferences and behaviour of political actors, which would suggest that constructivism features deterministic tendencies. On the contrary, its theoretical premises have a much more nuanced nature and the constructivist position within the agency-structure debate asserts that the two elements are mutually constitutive. Constructivism argues that meaningful conduct is possible only within an intersubjective social context, since agents develop relations with and understandings of others via ideas, norms and practices. In their absence, actions like the exercise of power would be devoid of meaning because ideas and norms have constitutive effects on identity, specifying the features that will enable others to recognise that identity and respond to it accordingly (Jepperson, Wendt and Katzenstein, 1996:54). In this process, agents exert their influence by consciously perpetuating and reproducing the social context through their prolonged actions and practices. A significant point to remember is that structure becomes meaningless without some intersubjective set of ideas and norms, so neither anarchy nor the distribution of capabilities alone can ‘socialise’ states to a particular conduct (Dessler, 1989:459-460).

Until now the discussion of constructivism has mentioned several times the notions of ‘constitutive effects’ or being ‘mutually constitutive’, but without describing more elaborately what they entail. The relation of constitution must be differentiated from that of causality, as constitutive theories enquire about the conditions which instantiate a phenomenon, rendering it possible. In this respect, Robert Cummins employs the concept of ‘property theories’ because they have a different objective from causal explanations: to account for the properties of things by reference to the structures in virtue of which they exist (Cummins, 1983). Another key aspect of constitutive theorising refers to the fact that the ‘counterfactual claim of necessity… is conceptual or logical, not causal or natural’ (Wendt, 1998:106). For instance, the conditions constituting a phenomenon define what the latter is, which conveys a relationship of identity not causal determination. These two components are inextricably linked, so that when the conditions come into being, the phenomenon comes into being with them. By contrast, causal explanations rest on two different assumptions: the factors causing an event exist independently from their outcome and are also temporally prior to it. If one applies these theoretical assumptions to the context of ideas, several implications become immediately apparent. The significant role that ideas play in international relations is fully acknowledged only when we recognise their constitutive effects (Wendt, 1999:87). The relationship of constitution derives from the fact that ideas create political outcomes by shaping their properties, meanings, perceptions or interpretations. These are in turn dependent on their ideational source, they exist only in virtue of those ideas – ‘terrorism’ cannot be conceived apart from a national security discourse that defines it. The national security discourse is in turn inextricably linked to constructing a notion of ‘terrorism’, since without it the concept would be meaningless.

When analysing foreign policy, dominant schools of thought in IR theory usually ignore ideas and identity or regard them as intervening variables at best, helping to account for outcomes which surpass the explanatory abilities of traditional materialist factors like power and interests. The approach in question is problematic as it does not encompass fully the ideational impact – ideas in fact create materialist causes. The bottom line of what becomes most contested in the materialist-idealist debate is ‘the relative contribution of brute material forces to power and interest explanations’ as opposed to ideas (Wendt, 1999:94). At this point it might be useful to consider briefly the traditional view of materialism which originates in Marxism. The classical Marxist dichotomy portrays the material base as the mode of production, while culture, ideology and other ideational factors belong to a non-material superstructure. Wendt believes the same principles can be extended and applied to realism; after all, ‘modes of destruction are as basic as modes of production’ (Wendt, 1999:94). Both instances contain a crucial issue, namely that ideational factors become completely separated from economic and military considerations. Here D.V. Porpora noted a conceptual contradiction, considering the fact that Marxism defines the modes of production not only via forces, but also via relations of production. Relations represent ideational phenomena embodied by institutions that ultimately refer to shared norms (Porpora, 1993:214). The obvious implication points to the fact that the material base of Marxism is actually infused with ideas and norms, which also reveals their constitutive role concerning materialism generally

To further reinforce such an argument, it is necessary to challenge the conventional materialist view of interests by acknowledging their nature – interests are actually cognitions or ideas. This perspective has been promoted by two distinct fields of knowledge and their associated scholars: cultural anthropology and philosophy. Drawing on cognitive psychology, the anthropologist R.G. D’Andrade (1992:28) sees interests, desires or motivations as ‘schemas’ (frames, representations, ideas), which reflect knowledge structures that ‘make possible the identification of objects and events’. A significant aspect to remember is that schemas are not given by human nature. D’Andrade (1992:31) admits that some interests can be rooted in biological drives which alludes to their material nature, but biology fails to explain most of the goals human beings seem capable of pursuing – and these are learned through socialisation. In this sense, the anthropologist offers the example of an interest for ‘achievement’: it implies a social standard about what counts as a legitimate aspiration and the individuals desiring to achieve have internalised that standard as a cognitive schema (D’Andrade, 1992:35). A very similar opinion has been advanced by R.B.K. Howe who draws on philosophy to articulate a cognitive theory of interest or desire. He too acknowledges that biological mechanisms influence interests, yet even very primitive desires are mostly directionless and depend on beliefs or ideas about what is desirable to render them meaningful (Howe, 1994). That is why ideas play a key role in defining and directing material needs; one perceives a goal as valuable, which in turn determines one’s interest in accomplishing it. These perceptions are learned sometimes by interacting with nature which resonates with materialist factors, but mostly they are learned through socialisation to culture – an inherently idealist phenomenon (Howe, 1994). Consequently, having reached similar conclusions starting from different premises, scholars in cultural anthropology and philosophy identify the cognitive basis of interests, or that ideas and not material drives create interests to a great extent.

In foreign policy analysis, the concept of ‘national interest’ has been accorded considerably more explanatory ability compared to other variables, particularly due to the influence of the classical realist and neorealist frameworks. However, is its nature inherently materialist and objective as the realist school of thought would have one believe? Or does it rather represent the product and construct of different interpretation processes, in which case ideas and identity become essential? The neorealist approach to international relations rests on the assumptions that the distribution of material capability in the states system can be objectively assessed and that threats to national interests can be accurately recognised. Such a perspective largely ignores that threats are not self-evident and the national interest, when confronted with a problematic situation, becomes ‘a matter of interpretation’ (Weldes, 1996:279), hence the significant influence of ideas and identity. Moreover, constructivism convincingly challenges the objective and materialist view of realism concerning national interests, reintroducing the crucial role of ideas and identity. It does so by promoting the tenet ‘that people act towards objects, including other actors, on the basis of the meanings that the objects have for them’ (Wendt, 1992:396-397). Wendt’s work has had a fundamental contribution in reconceptualising the national interest as the product of intersubjective processes of meaning creation. Nevertheless, consistent with the neorealist tradition, he regards states through the ‘black box’ metaphor, their internal processes being irrelevant to the construction of state identities and interests. Wendt (1992:401) argues that the meanings which states attach to phenomena and subsequently their interests and identities are shaped via inter-state interaction. This does reflect an important facet of identity formation, but also neglects the historical and political contexts in which national interests are deeply embedded, because the interpretations defining state interests cannot be restricted to the meanings and ideas generated by inter-state interaction. After all, any state is inextricably linked to the domestic actors that take decisions in its name. These agents do internalise the norms characterising the international environment, yet they also approach politics with an already formed appreciation of the world, the international system and the position of their state within it (Weldes, 1996:280). The national actors’ ideas and interpretation of all these issues stem partly from domestic political and cultural contexts. As Antonio Gramsci (1971:112) noted, ‘civil society is the sphere in which the struggle to define the categories of common sense takes place’.

After revealing interests as expressions of ideas, one might advance the counterargument that such a conceptualisation applies only to individuals, becoming irrelevant in the case of states and the international system. The latter brings forward another essential point of this paper, which argues that states articulate a constructed collective identity that influences what they perceive their interests to be. It is best shown when taking into account the example of foreign policy, a domain in which various actors make decisions according to their ideas and perceptions of the national interest. Following the collapse of the communist regime, Romania and its political leaders were faced with the opportunity to choose the appropriate future course for the emerging democracy. Their decision was to actively pursue a transformation for the new state, seeking to create a collective identity with the West. But before proceeding with the empirical discussion, it has become imperative to define and conceptualise one of its central notions – ‘identity’. This context particularly deals with state identity because it represents the most relevant instance for analysing foreign policy. In the philosophical sense, ‘identity’ can be defined as whatever makes an entity what it is, although such a definition is too broad to render the concept meaningful. That is why, for analytical purposes and conceptual utility, identity will be understood using a two-faceted definition. On the one hand, it can be regarded as ‘a property of intentional actors that generates motivational and behavioural dispositions’ (Wendt, 1999:224). On the other hand, identity cannot be conceived without recognising that which is like, other and simultaneously like and other, or without an understanding of the self which comes from this recognition (Norton cited by Campbell, 1992: 78-79). Both facets of the definition suggest that identity contains at base a subjective or unit-level quality rooted in an actor’s self-understandings. Their meaning will often depend on whether others represent that actor in the same way, a feature which configures the inter-subjective quality of identity (Wendt, 1999:225). Even a simple example can illustrate the point in a more enlightening manner: Helen might think she is a lecturer but if that belief is not shared by her colleagues and students, then her identity will not operate in their interaction. In other words, both internal and external structures constitute an identity and it takes form under two types of ideas: those held by the Self and those held by the Other. The character of this internal-external relationship varies, which leads to the existence of several kinds of identity, rather than one unitary phenomenon susceptible to a general definition. Building on the work of James Fearon (1999), a typology that features several kinds of identity will be presented here, all inextricably linked and feeding into each other: personal and social, type, role, corporate and collective.

First, ‘personal’ identity is constituted by the self-organising, homeostatic structures that make actors distinct entities (Greenwood, 1994). These structures have a material base represented by the human body, as well as a social component. The latter points to ‘a set of attributes, beliefs, desires, or principles of action that a person thinks distinguish her in socially relevant ways and that (a) the person takes a special pride in; (b) the person takes no special pride in, but which so orient her behavior that she would be at a loss about how to act and what to do without them; or (c) the person feels she could not change even if she wanted to’ (Fearon, 1999:25). What differentiates the ‘personal’ identity of intentional actors from that of other entities is a consciousness and memory of Self as a separate locus of thought and activity (Wendt, 1999:225).

It cannot be denied that people constitute distinct entities in virtue of biology, but without consciousness and memory – a sense of ‘I’ – they are not agents. This aspect resonates even more in the case of a state, since its people must have a common narrative of themselves as a corporate actor. Therefore, the state itself might be considered a ‘group Self’ capable of group-level recognition (Wilson and Sober, 1994:602).

In the former, an identity is just a social category, a group of people designated by a label (or labels) that is commonly used either by the people designated, others, or both. This is the sense employed when we refer to American,” French,” Muslim,” father,” homosexual,” (p.10)

Find out how can help you!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

National identities, like American or Russian, are examples of type identities. There are almost no contexts in which it would make sense to speak of the the role of an American,” except in a theatre play where role” means part. Other social categories that are almost wholly type identities include party a_liation (e.g., Democrat or Republican), sexual identity (heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, etc.), and ethnic identity. Some identities or social categories involve both role and type. For example, mother” is a role, but nonetheless we expect certain beliefs, attitudes, values, preferences, moral virtues, and so on, to be characteristic of people performing the role of mother (understandings that may change through time.) On the other hand, some role identities, which mainly but not exclusively comprise occupational categories, have few if any type features associated with them (for example, toll booth collector).

Lastly, ‘collective’ identity brings the Self-Other relationship to another stage and its logical conclusion – identification. The latter represents a cognitive process in which the distinction between the two becomes blurred and sometimes even transcended, namely Self is ‘categorised’ as Other. Identification tends to be issue specific and always involves extending the boundaries of the Self to include the Other. In this respect, ‘collective’ identity uses both ‘role’ and ‘type’ ones and at the same time goes beyond their limits. It builds on ‘role’ identities since both depend on the mechanism of incorporating the Other into the Self, which generates a socially constituted ‘Me’. The essential difference refers to their contrasting objectives: ‘role’ identities use the mechanism to enable the Self and Other to play distinct roles, whereas a ‘collective’ identity aims to merge the two entities into a single one. In the case of ‘type’ identities, the situation is slightly more complicated. ‘Collective’ identity builds on them as both require shared characteristics, but not all ‘type’ identities are collective because not all involve the identification process

Especially over the past decade, the discipline of IR has experienced what Yosef Lapid and Friedrich Kratochwil (1996) called ‘the return of culture and identity in IR theory’. The 1950s and 1960s had brought for IR scholars an intense preoccupation with the role of national identities, particularly in the context of early EU integration studies by Karl Deutsch and Ernst Haas. Unfortunately, later on the concept became once again marginalised in favour of more ‘objective’ and scientific approaches like neorealism and rational choice. The recent ‘return’ of identity does not necessarily imply that the current use of the term may be considered equivalent to that of the 1950s-1960s. Rather, since the late 1980s, a new strand of theory regarding identity has emerged and slowly developed, which rejects essentialist notions while emphasising the constructed nature of social and political identities (see for example McSweeney, 1999; Albert et al., 2001).

One of the works that is most often cited when discussing the relationship between state identity and foreign policy is that of David Campbell. In his 1992 book Writing security, he challenges the traditional narrative of asking how foreign policy serves the national interest and instead examines how the practice of foreign policy helps write and rewrite state identity.

According to Campbell ‘Danger is not an objective condition. It is not a thing which exists independently of those to whom it may become a threat’ (Campbell 1992: 1). As ‘danger is an effect of interpretation’ (Ibid: 2), nothing is more or less dangerous than something else, except when interpreted as such. In terms of the non-essentialistic character of danger, the objectification and externalization of danger need to be understood as an effect of political practices rather than the condition of their possibility. As danger is never objective, Campbell’s argument continues, neither is the identity which it is said to threaten. Rather, the contours of this identity are subject to constant (re)writing, and foreign policy is an integral part of the discourses of danger which serve to discipline the state. Campbell’s theory – a declared challenge to conventional approaches which assume a settled nature of identity – is thus that state identity can be understood as the outcome of practices associated with a discourse of danger.

We speak about the foreign policy of the state x or state y, thereby indicating that the state is prior to the policy, but Campbell’s creative insights come to challenge such a position. He explains that national states are ‘paradoxical entities which do not possess prediscursive stable identities’ (Ibid: 11). As states are always in the process of becoming, ‘for a state to end its practices of representation would be to expose its lack of prediscursive foundations'(Ibid: 11). Ironically, the inability of the state project of security to succeed is the guarantor of the state’s continued success as an impelling identity. ‘The constant articulation of danger through foreign policy is thus not a threat to a state’s identity or existence: it is its condition of possibility'( Ibid: 12).

Building on such theoretical understanding, this paper offers an account of the processes through which Romanian state identity – and its insecurities – are produced, reproduced, and potentially transformed.


Most Used Categories

With Our Resume Writing Help, You Will Land Your Dream Job
Resume Writing Service, Resume101
Trust your assignments to an essay writing service with the fastest delivery time and fully original content.
Essay Writing Service, EssayPro
Nowadays, the PaperHelp website is a place where you can easily find fast and effective solutions to virtually all academic needs
Universal Writing Solution, PaperHelp
Professional Custom
Professional Custom Essay Writing Services
In need of qualified essay help online or professional assistance with your research paper?
Browsing the web for a reliable custom writing service to give you a hand with college assignment?
Out of time and require quick and moreover effective support with your term paper or dissertation?