Meanings, History and Usages

  • Joseph Frankel
Part of the Key Concepts in Political Science book series (KCP)


‘National interest’ is a singularly vague concept. It assumes a variety of meanings in the various contexts in which it is used and, despite its fundamental importance, these meanings often cannot be reconciled; hence no agreement can be reached about its ultimate meaning. The admittedly limited literature specifically dealing with it1 suggests no clear-cut classification of its various uses. It is characteristic that no entry under the heading can be found in the Oxford Dictionaries, in the first edition of The International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences (1935) or in A Dictionary of Social Sciences (1965).


Foreign Policy National Interest North Atlantic Treaty Organization Oxford Dictionary Ultimate Meaning 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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1/Meanings, History and Usages

  1. 1.
    See the bibliography in James N. Rosenau, “National Interest”, International Encyclopaedia of Social Sciences 1968.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    W. R. Schilling, “The Clarification of Ends—or, Which Interest Is National?”, World Politics, 1956, pp. 567–8.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    D. Vital, The Making of British Foreign Policy, 1968, p. I I.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    N. J. Padelford and G. A. Lincoln, The Dynamics of International Politics, 1962, p. 8.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    H. J. Morgenthau, The Restoration of American Politics, 1962, p. 199.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cf. Charles A. Beard, The Idea of National Interest: An Analytical Study of American Foreign Policy 1934, and James N. Rosenau, op. cit.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    F. R. C. Macridis (ed.), Foreign Policy in World Politics, 3rd edn., 1967;Google Scholar
  8. J. E. Black and K. W. Thompson, Foreign Policies in a World of Change, 1963;Google Scholar
  9. F. S. Northedge (ed.), The Foreign Policies of the Powers, 1968.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    E.g. David Vital, The Inequality of States 1967, defines as ‘small states’ those with populations under 10–15 million, when developed, and double that when not developed.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    Cf. an outline of a five-way matrix in J. Frankel, International Politics: Conflict and Harmony, 1969, P. 14.Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    This is often assumed to be more important. Cf. B. Russell, Principles of Social Reconstruction, 1915Google Scholar
  13. or A. Etzioni, Active Society, 1969.Google Scholar
  14. 11.
    Cf. A. M. Scott, The Functioning of the International System 1967, pp. vii and 30.Google Scholar
  15. 12.
    Cf. A. B. Fox, The Power of Small States: Diplomacy in World War II 1959.Google Scholar
  16. 13.
    Cf. J. D. Singer, preface to QKantitative International Relations, 1968, and in “Modern International War: from Conjecture to Explanation”, in A. Lepaysky and others (eds), Essays in Honor of Quincy Wright, 1970.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Pall Mall Press Ltd. London 1970

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Frankel
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SouthamptonUK

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