Identity and foreign policy
in Representation, recognition and respect in world politics
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Identity is a powerful force in shaping foreign policy. Yet identity is not a rigid category; rather, there are different domestic and international factors that interact and develop a cohesive image of who a state believes itself to be. Regardless of the uniqueness and variation in state identities that exist, there are a core set of ideational structures that help to produce an imagined state Self, which then influences foreign policy. This chapter focuses in particular on the United States and its state identity with reference to history, culture and national mission. It is important to analyse state identity because projections of identity inform a state’s foreign policy direction. Before we can understand the impact that representations and recognition have in interstate relations, we first need to understand which factors constitute state identity itself. Understanding the core elements that feed into the framework of state identity allows for a deeper appreciation of state behaviour. Such an appreciation of state identity will, in turn, also facilitate an understanding of how representations influence foreign policymaking.

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