Since it was launched in the mid-1990s, the concept of securitization has consistently been in vogue, at least among European scholars of world politics and security studies. The idea of viewing security as intersubjective, where anyone or anything can be a threat if constructed as such, is both an appealing and useful conceptualization when analyzing security issues beyond the traditional, realist, state-centric view of security being equal to military issues. However, the precise aspects that make securitization appealing have also limited its broader impact on security studies or foreign policy analysis (FPA), as these fields often adhere to the assumption of threats being actor-based and external. Nevertheless, several studies demonstrate that both the theoretical assumptions of securitization theory and prior empirical applications of these assumptions are useful when analyzing different policy and security issues, and the concept can be applied to a broad range of issue areas, contexts, and actors. In order to capture the applicability of securitization theory to the study of foreign policy, this article will set out to describe and review the central assumptions of securitization theory and the different conceptual developments that have taken place since its inception. I thereafter proceed to outline different issue areas to which securitization has been employed, focusing on both domestic and external military and nonmilitary threats. This review of prior works demonstrates that although many studies are not self-proclaimed analyses of foreign policy, they capture important dynamics of the internal-external security nexus that epitomizes politics in the globalized era. The article concludes with a discussion of the added value that a securitization framework can bring to FPA.
Randolph M. Siverson and Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
The Selectorate Theory is based upon one simple, perhaps even commonplace assumption: Once in office, leaders want to remain in office. They have a variety of tools to enhance their longevity in office, but the theory hypothesizes the leader’s allocation of two types of goods will be paramount in their efforts. One good is private, meaning that it is enjoyed by those to whom it is allocated and not to others. Such goods would include money, jobs, opportunities for corruption, but their hallmark is that they are not shared. These goods may be given to one individual or to a group, but they are not shared outside those to whom they are given. The second type of good is public and is shared by all those in the state. These goods would include potable water, clean air, education, and, importantly, national defense. There is little unique about the Selectorate Theory’s understanding of these goods, as they approximate ideas from economics.
The importance and values of these two goods depend critically on the political institutions of the state. The Selectorate Theory identifies two political institutions of dominant importance: The Selectorate, from which it takes its name; and the Winning Coalition. The former consists of all those people who have a role in selecting the state’s leader. This group may be large, as in the electorate in democratic states, or small, as in the case of an extended family or a junta. In unusual circumstances it can even be a group outside the state, as when a foreign government either imposes or influences choices made inside the state. The winning coalition may be large, but not larger than the selectorate, or it may be as small as an extended family or a junta, groups that essentially constitute the selectorate.
Variations in these two institutions can have important consequences for how the state conducts its foreign policy. For example, leaders in states with small winning coalitions should be able to take greater risks in their policies because if these fail, they will be able to mobilize and distribute private goods to reinforce their position. If these goods are not readily available, it is possible to purge non-critical supporters and redistribute their goods to others.
These institutions are also important in identifying the kinds of issues over which states are more or less likely to enter into conflict. States with small winning coalitions are more likely to enter into disputes over things that can be redistributed to supporters, such as land or resources. Large winning coalitions will have little use for such goods, since the ratio of coalition size and goods to be distributed is likely to be exiguous.
The Selectorate Theory also provides a firm analysis of the foundations for the idea of the Democratic Peace, which has been generally either lacking or imprecise.
Despite its clarity, some interpretations of the Selectorate Theory have led to mistaken inferences about what it says. We discuss several of these and close with a consideration of the need for improvement in the measurement of key variables.
Discussion of some representative work from the scholars of foreign policy provides a review of the literature that can guide researchers in examining the separate yet interrelated stages of the decision-making process and that can demonstrate the importance of sequences in the process of foreign policymaking.
Erik A. Gartzke, Shannon Carcelli, J Andres Gannon, and Jiakun Jack Zhang
Costly signaling offers a solution to many foreign policy dilemmas. Though most commonly studied in the context of the bargaining theory of war, signaling can also play an important role in nonzero-sum interactions such as those characterized by chicken (e.g., nuclear deterrence) and the prisoner’s dilemma (e.g., tariff reductions). A rich game theoretic literature explains how actors can signal credibly in these situations. The most prominent strategies are sinking costs (actions that are costly ex ante) or tying hands (actions that are costly ex post). These strategies are theoretically elegant but have generated considerable controversy when studied empirically. One controversy concerns the existence of hand-tying domestic audience costs under different regime types. A second controversy involves the degree to which sinking costs increase or decrease the risk of war. These controversies speak to the inherent tension between theories of strategic interactions and measuring their outcomes in the foreign policy process, where some events are off the equilibrium path and thus unobserved.
The limited availability of foreign policy data was a major hindrance in earlier empirical efforts. Even as the quality of this data has improved, focus has been on the outcomes of conflict (crisis onset, escalation to war, victory, defeat) rather than the strategy. This is problematic given that all crises are sequential in nature and understanding the action–reaction cycle is vital to illuminating patterns of war, capitulation, and settlement. The frontier of research in the signaling literature is in bridging this gap. The advent of big data and machine learning has enabled more systematic empirical analysis of strategic moves by various foreign policy actors, including signaling. Some researchers, such as Lindsay & Gartzke, are harnessing these new data and methods to explore the means of signaling. Other scholars are beginning to ask questions about the efficacy of public versus private signaling, the role of ambiguity, and dyadic versus multi-actor signaling. This new wave of research seeks to nudge signaling closer to the concerns of foreign policy practitioners.
Ravi Bhavnani and David Sylvan
On several occasions in the past 70 years, simulation as a research program in FPA rose, then fell. We begin by defining what we mean by simulations before reviewing the two main streams of simulation work in FPA: human-based and computer-based, with this latter itself comprising two streams. We conclude with a speculative discussion of what happened to simulation in FPA and what the future may hold.
Ana Bojinović Fenko and Marjan Svetličič
Despite having fought for their bare survival against hostile foreigners, after finally reaching their independence and international recognition in 1991/92, paradoxically, even before fully assuming statehood Slovenians were eager to engage in yet another international integration—the European Union. This historical and societal wager, rather than merely political elites’ driven perspective, dominates as the prevailing reason for pursuing EU membership; thus security assurance to a small geopolitically transit state, economic benefits of a larger common market in conditions of economic globalization, and cultural proximity of Slovenian to European society explain Slovenian general identity-related elements favoring membership in the EU. There is also a more immediate time-space related explanatory factor for this, namely, the collapsing of the socialist Yugoslavia starting by the end 1980s and a view of assuring the democratic political life and market-lead economy via integration with Western European countries rather than South Slavic nations or following other alternative scenarios like full liberalization with all partners’ strategy. Authors critically evaluate where and why during the effort of becoming an EU member state and performing excellently as one during the first four years, the state fell short of capability-building and/or seizing the opportunities of EU membership. As the latter has been most brutally exposed via the effects of the 2008–2014 economic and financial crisis, of key importance for Slovenians currently stands a self-reflection of its development strategy, enhancing competitiveness, and the state’s role within the European family of nations. The main challenge is how to overcome the small state hindrances and more effectively formulate and project national interest to the EU level; with that in mind, the central questions for Slovenians remain assurance of social security to citizens, upgrading economic union to face more effectively global challenges and inter-state solidarity, refreshing enlargement policy for the remaining Western Balkans non-member states and ensuring Slovenian participation in the group of core states leading the European integration.
Baldur Thorhallsson and Sverrir Steinsson
Size matters in international relations. Owing to their unique vulnerabilities, small states have different needs, adopt different foreign policies, and have a harder time achieving favorable foreign policy outcomes than large states. Small states show a preference for multilateral organizations because they reduce the power asymmetry between states, decrease the transaction costs of diplomacy, and impose constraints on large states. Small state security policies vary widely depending on domestic and international conditions. Despite the inherent disadvantages to being small, small states can compensate for the limitations of their size and exert influence on world politics, provided that they use the appropriate strategies.
Deborah Welch Larson
Social identity theory (SIT) from social psychology provides a means to explore the influence of identity and status concerns on foreign policy. The theory argues that groups are motivated to achieve a positively distinctive identity. Groups compare themselves to a similar but slightly higher reference group. Inferiority on important dimensions may lead to the adoption of an identity management strategy: social mobility (emulating the higher-status group to gain admission), social competition (striving to equal or surpass the dominant group), or social creativity (revaluing an ostensibly negative characteristic as positive or identifying an alternative dimension on which the group is superior).
Applied to international relations, states may pursue social mobility by emulating the values and practices of higher-status states in order to be admitted to a higher standing, much as Eastern Europe did in seeking admission into the European Union after the end of the Cold War. If elite groups are impermeable to new members, and the status hierarchy is perceived to be unstable or illegitimate, aspiring powers may engage in social competition, which usually entails territorial conquest and military displays. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union sought to catch up with and surpass the capitalist states. If elite clubs are not permeable, but the status hierarchy is stable, states may seek status through social creativity—either reframing a negative trait as positive or seeking preeminence in a domain apart from geopolitical competition. Social creativity may entail creating new international institutions, promoting new norms, or engaging in major diplomatic initiatives in order to increase the state’s prestige.
Research applying SIT to international relations has addressed the question of whether anarchy necessarily leads to conflict between states, the diffusion of values, the selection of an identity discourse on the domestic level, and state efforts at moral leadership.
Critics have charged that SIT does not clearly predict which identity management strategy will be chosen in a given situation. From a realist perspective, the selection of a strategy for enhancing a state’s status is constrained by geographic position, size, and natural endowments. But this argument does not take into consideration the availability of social mobility and social creativity as ways to achieve status that do not depend on relative military power.
Social media refer to websites and other Internet applications that enable users to create and share content with other users, as well as to react to such content in various ways. As social media have become more accessible, in terms of both Internet access and ease of use, it has become one means by which people, nonstate actors, and governments can share their foreign policy priorities in an effort to receive feedback, engage in diplomacy, educate people, and attempt to influence foreign policy outcomes. Foreign policy practitioners and scholars have rushed to describe and begin to analyze the ways in which social media has become part of the foreign policy process. The social and political upheaval associated with the Arab Spring, some of which has been traced to both foreign and domestic use of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, created a greater sense of urgency among those who seek a greater understanding of the impact of social media on foreign policy.
Thematically, much of the academic work concerning social media and foreign policy is conducted as part of the broader public diplomacy literature. Public diplomacy, which relates to efforts by international actors to engage with foreign publics in the pursuit of policy goals, can be advanced along a number of paths. However, given their accessibility, low cost, and ease of use, social media has become a critical tool for a wide variety of international actors running the gamut from governments to portions of civil society to terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq Syria (ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIS based in part on the group’s territorial claims). Social media and foreign policy work can also be found in the political communication literature, in working papers and articles generated by foreign policy think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations, and in academic journals dedicated to area studies that often concentrate on specific episodes of social media used to influence foreign policy.
Theoretical development in the area of social media and foreign policy is fragmented across disciplines and approaches. Network theories focus on interactions between parts of a network (in this case a social network); network analysis methods are sometimes employed as part of this theoretical framework. Other theories in this area focus on traditional problems associated with collective action and how these problems can be overcome by removing barriers to communication and lowering the cost of some types of political action. Different theoretical perspectives are often accompanied by different empirical results. Results vary from findings of a profound impact of social media on foreign policy outcomes to skepticism of the role played by social media in the face of other, potentially confounding, factors.
Sociological institutionalism is part of the larger group of new institutionalisms, which share the basic understanding that institutions matter in social processes. Opposing a more descriptive, “old” institutionalism and a rational-choice version of institutionalism, which defends the idea that actors have the option to choose independently from a large number of attitudes, sociological institutionalists introduced the notion of logic of appropriateness, influenced by a specific strand of the sociology of organizations. This understanding, however, led to limits in the explicatory force of the approach: institutional change, as well as continued conflict and differentiated power relations among actors, could not be explained well. More recent approaches that took sociological institutionalist assumptions very seriously offered a series of possible solutions to those difficulties. While elements of rationality and power exist implicitly in different conceptualizations of sociological institutionalism, these authors explicitly brought together both actors’ rational behavior and their embeddedness in broad institutional frameworks through concentrating on the power relations that exist among agents.