The Role of Self-Fulfilling and Self-Negating Prophecies in International Relations
Abbreviated Journal Title
Int. Stud. Rev.
DEMOCRATIC PEACE; POLICY DIFFUSION; LIBERAL PEACE; CIVILIZATIONS; INTERDEPENDENCE; CLASH; CONFLICT; CONSTRUCTIVIST; ORGANIZATIONS; NETWORKS; International Relations; Political Science
As constructivists and other advocates of constitutive theories have often noted, the natural world is very different from the social one. Our ideas about the social world not only reflect that world, but help shape and create it; we are part of the reality we try to describe and explain, and we therefore have the potential to alter the reality a theory is merely intended to describe or explain. Our theories about the social world may thus become self-fulfilling prophecies or autogenetic in character, or they may self-negate. And yet while social constructivists often make this point in epistemological debates, there have been relatively few attempts so far to address its empirical implications. With that objective in mind, this paper examines two prominent IR theories the democratic peace and the commercial peace arguing that each has a self-fulfilling character rather than being true or false in any objective or timeless sense, as well as the potential of a currently self-negating thesis the clash of civilizations to become self-fulfilling; each theory is, to paraphrase the now time-honored expression, what the relevant actors make of it. The article also probes the processes by which theories become self-generating or self-negating. It is suggested that a number of frameworks developed outside political science especially diffusion theory, memetics, social contagion theories, George Lakoff's metaphor-based model, Malcolm Gladwell's "Tipping Point" approach and social network analysis may in combination help us understand both how political ideas spread through academic and policy communities and why particular ideas "win Out" over others.
International Studies Review
"The Role of Self-Fulfilling and Self-Negating Prophecies in International Relations" (2009). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 1644.