Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Constructivism, National Identity and Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Constructivism, National Identity and Foreign Policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Article excerpt


This essay considers foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran based on elements of national identity. National identity of Iran is a cognitive subject based on mutual understanding of Iran and other countries. National identity of the Islamic Republic of Iran is the conception of this country from itself based on realization and conception of other countries from it. The research hypothesis is as follows: Iran's policy, orientation and treatment of foreign policy have been influenced by the ideas of national identity.

Keywords: Constructivism, National identity, Foreign policy, Islamic Republic of Iran

1. Introduction

The relevance of national identity and foreign policy did not get noticed for many years because of paradigm dominated by realism in international relations. In the theory section of Morgenthau's book (Politics among Nations) and Kenneth Waltz's books (Man, the State and War) and (Theory of International Politics), the connection of culture and national identity of a country with its foreign policy is clearly denied. Another reason of less attention to this issue was the domination of behaviorism and attention to tangible and measurable phenomena. As a result, the definition of culture and its determination with other phenomena were difficult work. But the identity component found its position in international relations with manifestation of constructivism approach in international field and emphasizing on the immaterial attitudes, ideas and elements.

Thus the realistic analysis of the Islamic Republic of Iran's foreign policy is possible based on the concept of identity and its elements. With understanding the identity of system we will be able to understand conceptual structures which according to it, the government and its agencies classify and make sense the world in its frame. In the logic of constructivism, identity is not pre-given but since it was historical, it is the result of an awareness existence in knowing basic concepts; it is acceptable in the society. In this respect that identity is a constructive act it refers to its resources and roots.

2. Theoretical framework: structural oriented in international relations

Original propositions of structural oriented are usually expressed as follows:

A: in the theory of international policy, the primary unit of analysis is governments.

B: the main and basic structures in the system of governments are inter-subjective not material.

C: Government benefits and identity are made by these social structures. (Howard, 2005)

Different and alternative understanding is presented by constructivism about the anarchy and the balance of power, the relationship between identity and benefits, complexity of power,...(Hopf, 1998:175)

3. Identity in foreign policy analysis

Identity is a main concept in the current theories of international relations especially in different constructivism and a political action is usually explained by referring to the identity of a country. Benefits are being constructed socially and the benefits of each country depend on its identity; if we do not know who we are, we won't know what our benefits are. Values and norms form identities in the realm of domestic and international politics.

Identity is given priority by other sources of meaning as "similarity and uniformity of general and fundamental features" or "meaning-making process based on a cultural feature or a continuous vague set of cultural features"... . Identity is a source of meaning and experience for people. There might be some identities for each actor so this issue causes tensions and contradictions. In some cases there is sophistry between identity and role. In comparing with role, Identity is a more powerful semantic reference because it comprises the processes of its making and selfdom. In fact, identity is the organizer of meaning but role is the organizer of actor function. (Costales, 2001:3-22)

Collective identity is usually defined negatively. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.