Studying Iranian Foreign Policy: A Constructivist Approach



Most scholarly literature on Iranian foreign policy describes the Iranian regimes as a rational actor, constrained but not motivated by ideology.1 This view can be contrasted with works that describe the Iranian regime as primarily guided by ideological considerations, particularly a political interpretation of Shi’a Islam.2 The discussion on Iranian “realism” versus “idealism” long characterized the academic debates on Iranian foreign policy, both inside and outside of Iran. Only recently, a third view of Iranian foreign policy behavior emerged: one based within a constructivist approach to the study of foreign policy.3 Although still underrepresented in the academic debate, the contours of this approach are taking shape, and the insights yielded have proven invaluable in the understanding of the “how possible” of Iranian foreign policy. This chapter traces back the steps of the constructivist approach that forms the backbone of this book.


Foreign Policy Middle East Islamic Republic International Relation Iranian Regime 
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© Maaike Warnaar 2013

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