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Identities among nations: power and politics in U.S.-China relations

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Amidst studies attempting to fix the U.S., China, and their relationship into preconceived frameworks of international relations, presupposed definitions, and models of reality, this dissertation adopts an identity centric approach to understanding the nature of U.S.-China relations and, more generally,

Amidst studies attempting to fix the U.S., China, and their relationship into preconceived frameworks of international relations, presupposed definitions, and models of reality, this dissertation adopts an identity centric approach to understanding the nature of U.S.-China relations and, more generally, international politics. This approach involves utilizing an interpretive method to understanding, analyzing the narratives of self and other expressed by political actors and how their identities--expressed through narratives--interact with one another and thus how they influence or reflect social behavior. Striving for greater understanding and a more intellectually honest approach to the study of international politics, this study seeks not theory building or generalizability in a traditional "scientific" sense. Rather, informed by thinkers from Karl Popper through those more recent, this dissertation develops and outlines an in-depth, contextual approach to understanding, applying this approach to analyzing the nature of U.S.-China relations. Ultimately, this study argues that U.S. and Chinese identities and how their identities interact influence the nature of U.S.-China relations, whether the relationship tends towards cooperation or conflict, and that in order to glimpse this nature researchers must delve into the details of their subjects of study. Attempting to do so, this study analyzes U.S.-China relations surrounding the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, relations regarding the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute between China and Japan as it pertains to U.S. relations with China, and relations regarding encounters between the U.S. and China in cyber space (paying special note to attempts to define this "space" itself).

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Date Created
2014

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The theory of narrative conflict

Description

Speculation regarding interstate conflict is of great concern to many, if not, all people. As such, forecasting interstate conflict has been an interest to experts, scholars, government officials, and concerned citizens. Presently, there are two approaches to the problem of

Speculation regarding interstate conflict is of great concern to many, if not, all people. As such, forecasting interstate conflict has been an interest to experts, scholars, government officials, and concerned citizens. Presently, there are two approaches to the problem of conflict forecasting with divergent results. The first tends to use a bird’s eye view with big data to forecast actions while missing the intimate details of the groups it is studying. The other opts for more grounded details of cultural meaning and interpretation, yet struggles in the realm of practical application for forecasting. While outlining issues with both approaches, an important question surfaced: are actions causing interpretations and/or are the interpretations driving actions? In response, the Theory of Narrative Conflict (TNC) is proposed to begin answering these questions. To properly address the complexity of forecasting and of culture, TNC draws from a number of different sources, including narrative theory, systems theory, nationalism, and the expression of these in strategic communication.

As a case study, this dissertation examines positions of both the U.S. and China in the South and East China Seas over five years. Methodologically, this dissertation demonstrates the benefit of content analysis to identify local narratives and both stabilizing and destabilizing events contained in thousands of news articles over a five-year period. Additionally, the use of time series and a Markov analysis both demonstrate usefulness in forecasting. Theoretically, TNC displays the usefulness of narrative theory to forecast both actions driven by narrative and common interpretations after events.

Practically, this dissertation demonstrates that current efforts in the U.S. and China have not resulted in an increased understanding of the other country. Neither media giant demonstrates the capacity to be critical of their own national identity and preferred interpretation of world affairs. In short, the battle for the hearts and minds of foreign persons should be challenged.

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Created

Date Created
2017