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Foreign PolicyTheories, Actors, Cases

Foreign Policy: Theories, Actors, Cases (3rd edn)

Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne
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date: 07 December 2023

p. 955. Discourse analysis, post-structuralism, and foreign policylocked

p. 955. Discourse analysis, post-structuralism, and foreign policylocked

  • Lene Hansen


This chapter examines the use of discourse analysis in the study of foreign policy. In the study of international relations, discourse analysis is associated with post-structuralism, a theoretical approach that shares realism’s concern with states and power, but differs from realism’s assumption that states are driven by self-interest. It also takes a wider view of power than realists normally do. Post-structuralism draws upon, but also challenges, realism’s three core assumptions: groupism, egoism, and power-centrism. The chapter first considers the theoretical principles that inform post-structuralist discourse analysis before discussing the research designs and methodological techniques employed by discourse analysts. It also offers examples and four learning boxes featuring mini-case studies and locates poststructuralist discourse analysis within the field of foreign policy analysis. Finally, it assesses the strengths and weaknesses of post-structuralist discourse analysis.

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