Estrangement in Diplomatic Practice
26 Pages Posted: 20 May 2019 Last revised: 25 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 20, 2019
Estrangement plays an implicit role in conflict (conflict resolution, nonproliferation, sanctions), international commerce (trade and investment), and global governance (globalization, governance, and multilateralism) but has attracted scant attention in the study of international relations. However, the concept has come to fruition in the sub-field of diplomatic studies as an important theoretical tool to explore and explain diplomacy with several authors positioning it at the core of their theoretical premises. The practice turn in diplomatic studies has pushed scholars to address the historical dissonance between theory and practice, with the hope that cross-fertilization could potentially provide further insight. This leads to the research question; does estrangement affect the day-to-day practice of diplomacy?
The study finds that that diplomats do suffer from a sense of estrangement in the practice of their profession. The findings indicate that the nature of the diplomatic profession; the context of international society; and how individual nations conceptualize diplomacy are causal factors, which result in three main categories of phenomena: (a) powerlessness, (b) meaninglessness, and (c) social isolation; which are enhanced in smaller, remote, low-activity, culturally dissimilar posts. The study presents a link between theory and practice, thus justifying, strengthening, and reinforcing the use of estrangement as an ideal tool to explain and explore diplomacy.
Keywords: estrangement, alienation, separateness, diplomatic studies, diplomacy
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