Social Networks and the Role of Norms in Missile Nonproliferation Policy Decisions
Abstract: This dissertation addresses the question of whether norms can influence states' decisions on missile nonproliferation policies. It investigates specifically why South Korea, which continued to face an existential threat and moreover anticipated relying on a robust missile capability to address this threat, acceded to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)—a decision that very well ... read morecould have limited, and in fact did limit, South Korea's future missile development. During the same time period (1994-2000), Egypt, which had normalized relations with its erstwhile principal security threat and moreover decided that long-range missiles would not be a central component to its overall military posture, decided that it would not join the MTCR. From a security perspective, these decisions appear not to be explained very well by neorealism, and, from an economic interdependence and international institutionalist perspective, also not very well addressed by neoliberalism. Could these decisions, then, be explained partially by norms-driven influences? This study employed multiple theoretic frameworks and research methodologies to answer this question. The analytic framework includes the rationalism-informed neorealist and neoliberal theories, and the constructivist research program. Qualitative analysis (process tracing) was used to compare insights across these three major research programs in international relations. Where the examination into norms could not be informed empirically by constructivism, the research design expanded into social psychology for insights into socialization mechanisms. This research also incorporated insights from social-networks theory, for perspectives on probabilistic formations of social-reference groups and quantified levels of relative influence of the members therein. Beginning with an original mapping of states' shared memberships in intergovernmental organizations, where states can interact socially and politically, and where social structures can develop, this research identified individual members of South Korea's and Egypt's respective per annum and, by extension, core social-reference groups. The result of this combined approach to the study of norms is a novel framework of indicators for where norms are operating and potentially are affecting preferences and behaviors. Further original contributions come from the specific identification of social-reference groups, their members, and those members' relative levels of potential influence. The key findings are that neorealism and neoliberalism, contrary to the initial impressions above, possess respectable explanatory power, with evidence that both South Korea and Egypt acted according to their genuine beliefs on the attendant costs and benefits of MTCR membership and on whether they would maximize their utility of finite resources in their pursuit of self-interest—for example, of enhanced security and economic benefits. However, both South Korea and Egypt were influenced in their respective decisions on MTCR membership also by norms, both intrinsically and insofar as norms can undergird social structures, general attitudes, and specific preferences that all can shape behavior. Specifically, South Korea was socialized and acculturated to be generally supportive of MTCR-related norms, while Egypt was influenced normatively in the opposite direction.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2018.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Robert Pfaltzgraff, Jr..
Committee: Ian Johnstone, and Christopher Tunnard.
Keywords: International relations, and Social psychology.read less