Foreign Policy Analysis: Conceptualizing Temporality and Otherness in the Role Theory
Role theory, which is based on the symbolic interactionism of George H. Mead, is increasingly used in foreign policy analysis. The goal of this paper is twofold. Firstly, the text expands the conceptual framework of role theory by incorporating the arguments of Mead’s theory of time. We argue that national roles have not only the relational dimension (the constitution of roles vis-a-vis others), but also the temporal dimension. Based on the theory of time, we conceptualize this temporal dimension by introducing the concepts of historical self and historical other. Secondly, the article attempts to incorporate in role theory the arguments of poststructuralism concerning the meaning of otherness and the defining of one another for the formation of identity. In this view, the symbolic-interactionist process of “taking the role of the other” and poststructuralist “negative othering” can be perceived as two extremes on the continuum of modalities of the constitutive relationship between self and the other.
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