Chapter 3

Diplomacy in International Relations Theory and Other Disciplinary Perspectives

Paul Sharp

This chapter examines how social theorists make sense of diplomacy. Social theory is concerned with explaining and understanding how people live in societies and, in this case, how those societies relate to one another. The introduction sets out the attractions and limitations of doing social theory, outlines different types of theory, and considers the uses of theory. The first section examines the place of diplomacy in three main traditions of international theory. The second section looks at sociological and anthropological studies of diplomats, what they actually do, and how they see themselves. The third section shifts the focus from theories of diplomacy to diplomatic theory, the rules and conventions which regulate professional diplomatic conduct. The final section looks at how developments in international relations have revived interest in diplomacy to the point where diplomatic theory of international relations and human relations in general may be possible. The chapter concludes that the world is becoming more plural. When people live in groups to separate from one another, there will always be a need for good diplomacy. Thus, in the mix of global, international, regional, and local societies that appear to be emerging, good diplomatic theory of all types will be at a premium.

Glossary exercises

Takeā€“home messages

Answering the book's "big" questions



Counterfactual reasoning exercises

Guide to further reading

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