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date: 05 December 2020

Nonrealist Variables: Identity and Norms in the Study of International Relationslocked

  • Andrew J. EnterlineAndrew J. EnterlineDepartment of Political Science, University of North Texas


Nonrealist variables (NRV) in the study of International Relations (IR) encompass the nonmaterial causal and consequential phenomena linked to interstate relations, central to which are studies of identity and norms. The two primary dimensions of the research agenda on identity are social interaction and culture. The study of social interaction considers the origins and dynamism of agency, the interests that flow from identity, and the manner in which identity influences issues such as security, allegiance, and empathy. On the other hand, research examining identity through the lens of culture reflects two distinct subinquiries: civilizational conflict, which is concerned with the impact of national culture on interstate conflict; and strategic culture, which studies how domestic and military cultures influence security policy. Meanwhile, the role of norms as they pertain to the study of IR is subdivided into two general research agendas associated with two levels of analysis in the IR subfield: the international system level and the national level norms. The analysis of norms in the scientific study of international processes (SSIP) is stronger than identity. This is due to the long-term presence of norms in the study of IR in research agendas examining alliances, reciprocity, arms races, and deterrence. Ultimately, the agent-based modeling approach may provide a methodology for scholars in SSIP through which to study the emergence and impact of identity and norms on systems and subsystems in IR.

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