Conceptualising Economic Diplomacy within the Realist Paradigm
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Uniwersytet Warszawski
Publication date: 2017-09-30
Stosunki Międzynarodowe – International Relations 2017;53(3):123-141
The aim of the article is to analyse the meaning and scope of notions of ‘diplomacy’ and ‘economic diplomacy’ within the realist paradigm in international relations (IR) as well as to trace the conceptual evolution of these notions. A traditional ‘embedding’ of diplomacy within a realist ontology, i.e. within a state-centric anarchic model, entailed its marginalisation and limited its scope. Classical realism and neorealism did not contribute much to the conceptualisation of diplomacy within IR or to a broadening of its issue area to include economic affairs. The realist approach only gained currency with the emergence of International Political Economy (IPE), which led realist scholars to view economic affairs as part of a broader spectrum of state actions. Most realist scholars today understand economic diplomacy as a state effort to ensure economic security in an anarchic international system. In the article I discuss the analytical tools for researching economic diplomacy, including economic statecraft and economic diplomacy understood as a continuum between the economic end and the power-play end. I point out that although realist accounts of economic diplomacy allow us to analyse the actions and tools of states perceived as the main actors on the diplomatic stage, they are in principle insufficient in times of shifting international power structures and given the challenges that economic diplomacy faces today.
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