Sarah von Billerbeck
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Sociological institutionalism
in United Nations peace operations and International Relations theory
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This chapter applies a sociological institutionalist frame to UN peacekeeping and explains the role of norms, rules, and culture in shaping the behaviour of peacekeeping actors. More specifically, sociological institutionalism focuses on actors as social agents whose behaviour is culturally specific and constructed around ideas of appropriateness; we can thus better understand not only why UN peacekeeping takes the form that it does but also how and why it changes over time through an examination of the internal institutional environment of the UN and the self-images and values of UN staff. These dynamics are illustrated empirically with a discussion of local ownership in UN peacekeeping that demonstrates how UN staff engage in inefficient or contradictory behaviours because of their need to perceive that their actions are appropriate and legitimate and to remain aligned with their own institutional standards.

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