Habits and Policy: The Social Construction of Foreign Policymaking Processes

Event Date: 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 -
2:00pm to 3:30pm
  • Global Security Hub

You are invited to the monthly meeting of the Global Security Hub. This meeting will feature a working paper presented by Dr. Mariano E. Bertucci, Visiting Scholar at the Department of Political Science and the Orfalea Center for Global & International Studies. His work focuses on logics of social action and foreign policymaking processes (on trade and security issues) in South America. His research has been published in peer-reviewed journal in the United States and abroad and featured in mass-media outlets such as the Huffington Post and Inside Higher Ed.

Habits and Policy: The Social Construction of Foreign Policymaking Processes

Mainstream theories in political science argue that formal political institutions or norms determine who will influence the making of policy and how they will do so. However, three South American presidential democracies with strikingly similar formal rules for making foreign policy (i.e., Argentina, Brazil and Chile) have been following, for decades, fundamentally different foreign policymaking processes; and, they have been doing so without resort to any normative justifications. This article explains how and why such variation in processes takes place. The article contrasts the theoretical expectations of rational choice institutionalism and norm-based arguments on foreign policymaking with a logic of habit not captured by the logics of consequences or appropriateness of RCI and norm-based explanations. Drawing on experimental findings in social psychology and cognitive neuroscience, and on extensive fieldwork and interviews with those Argentine, Brazilian and Chilean policymakers who have actually made policy, the article makes two contributions. First, it furthers the theoretical development of the concept of habit in IR and offers a means of studying habits empirically. Second, it challenges the assumption that the power of domestic actors in foreign policy is a function of formal institutions or prevailing norms.