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Reluctant Powers: A Concept-Building Approach and an Application to the Case of Germany

Sandra Destradi

No 2015/46, RSCAS Working Papers from European University Institute

Abstract: Reluctance is an extremely widespread phenomenon in international politics. For example, several rising powers have displayed an inconsistent, flip-flopping approach towards their regions and have not conformed to the expectations and wishes of their potential regional followers. While the notion of reluctance is frequently employed to describe this type of incoherent and unresponsive foreign policy, the concept of reluctance has not been systematically defined and discussed in the fields of International Relations (IR) and Foreign Policy Analysis. This paper develops a conceptualization of reluctance by identifying the concept’s semantic field and discussing how reluctance relates to similar but distinct notions in the field of IR (concept reconstruction) and, on that basis, by outlining the constitutive dimensions of reluctance and their operationalization (concept building). To illustrate how this conceptualization of reluctance can provide new insights in empirical analyses, the concept is applied to the case of Germany’s approach to crisis management in Europe and the European neighborhood.

Keywords: Reluctance; rising powers; foreign policy; Germany; Eurozone crisis; Ukraine (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2015-06
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