Fighting for Status

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Fighting for Status

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Title: Fighting for Status
Author: Renshon, Jonathan
Citation: Renshon, Jonathan. 2012. Fighting for Status. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Research Data: http://hdl.handle.net/1902.1/18119
Abstract: Fighting for Status investigates how status concerns affect states’ decisions in the domain of international security. Ironically, while there is widespread agreement within the political science discipline and the foreign policy community that status matters, there exists relatively little in the way of focused research on how and when it does so. Thus, our understanding of status in international politics has been guided so far by intuition, not by evidence, and this has left us with a significant gap in our understanding of how status affects foreign policy behavior and international outcomes. Relying on the assumption that ‘status matters’ has left us with no extant theory of variation in states’ concern for status and little understanding of its specific implications for foreign policy or international conflict. What is needed –and what my research is designed to provide –is a systematic investigation into the ways in which the desire to increase or prevent the loss of status affects the behavior of states and leaders, especially as these concerns relate to the propensity for violent conflict. Using a diverse array of methods and data, I provide evidence on the relationship between status concerns and conflict. I use a large-n, cross-national analysis to investigate the effects of status dissatisfaction on international conflict at several degrees of intensity. I find that states that are attributed less status than they are due based on material capabilities are overwhelmingly more likely (than satisfied states) to initiate militarized disputes at almost every level of intensity. Two case studies –focusing on Germany and Russia in the World War One era –corroborate these patterns in historical cases of great importance and help to form a more complete picture of how status concerns affect political decision-making. Finally, I use a laboratory experiment and a unique sample of real-world political and military leaders to shed light on the causal pathways through which status concerns affect escalation behavior. Here I find that negative emotions are a key pathway through which concerns over relative status impair judgment and decision-making.
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:10288497
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