Foreign policy

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  • Publié le : 5 mars 2010
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The Politics of Foreign Policy

Christopher Hill discusses, in the second chapter, the debate over the relationship between agency and structure and how they constitute and influence each other.Structure refers to all factors and processes which condition and constitute the environment in which agents function. These structures do not necessarily refer to external environment but they can alsobe political, bureaucratic and social structures and their problems are mainly related to their definitions, their relations with agents and themselves. Agents on the other hand are best replaced bythe term, actors who are individuals or collectives in charge of taking actions or decisions and whose behaviours are done either deliberately or not. These actors are the central category of foreignpolicy, including non-state actors.
Christopher Hill also argues that states, individuals, and the international system do not necessarily explain political phenomena and hence the distinctionbetween modes of explanation and unit of analysis is needed. He also emphasises the distinction between units and actors, actors and structures, positivism and constructivism, free will and illusorychoices. The understanding and explanation of agency and structure, moreover, are indispensable for a good foreign policy analysis and hence our ontology, epistemology, and methodologies should be diverse.The author, furthermore, highlights the notions of state, sovereignty, and foreign policy and their relations. Sovereignty doesn’t depend on maximizing power and foreign policy attempts at projectingparticular external concerns on the domestic. The existence of state sovereignty, moreover, is an essential prerequisite for the existence of foreign policy but still the latter can do without statesovereignty in some exceptional cases. The relationship between state and foreign policy, moreover, can either be an outside-in where the external environment influences the sate’s internal affairs...