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Comparative Exceptionalism: universality and particularity in foreign policy discourses
2019 (English)In: International Studies Review, ISSN 1521-9488, E-ISSN 1468-2486, Vol. 21, no 1, p. 12-32Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Existing research on exceptionalism in foreign policy suggests a number of confrontational features making it a threat to peaceful international relations. Largely based on US and European cases, and hardly ever taking a comparative approach, this literature overlooks a variety of exceptionalisms in non-Western countries, including so called “rising powers” such as China and India. A comparison between exceptionalist foreign policy discourses of the United States, China, India, and Turkey shows that exceptionalism is neither exclusive to the United States, nor a “new” phenomenon within rising powers, nor necessarily confrontational, unilateralist, or exemptionalist. As a prerequisite for comparative work, we establish two features common to all exceptionalist foreign policy discourses. In essence, such discourses are informed by supposedly universal values derived from a particular civilization heritage or political history. In order to systematize different versions of exceptionalism, we then propose four ideal types, each of which reflects exceptionalism's common trait of a claim to moral superiority and uniqueness but diverges across other important dimensions, with implications for its potentially offensive character. The article concludes by formulating a research agenda for future comparative work on exceptionalist foreign policy discourses and their repercussions for great power relations and global politics.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. Vol. 21, no 1, p. 12-32
National Category
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalisation Studies)
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-8985DOI: 10.1093/isr/viy008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-8985DiVA, id: diva2:1391445
Available from: 2020-02-04 Created: 2020-02-04 Last updated: 2020-02-04

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Nymalm, Nicola
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  • de-DE
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