The United States, Israel, and the Search for International Order: Socializing States (Hardback) book cover

The United States, Israel, and the Search for International Order

Socializing States

By Cameron G. Thies

© 2013 – Routledge

180 pages

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How do emerging states become full, functioning members of the international system? In this book, Cameron G. Thies argues that new and emerging states are subject to socialization efforts by current member states, which guide them in locating their position in the international system.

Thies develops a theoretical approach to understanding how states socialize each other into and out of different roles in the international system, such as regional power, ally, and peacekeeper. The concept of state socialization is developed using role theory, a middle-range theory developed in the interdisciplinary field of social psychology. This middle-range theory helps to flesh out the theoretical mechanisms often missing in grand theories like neorealism and constructivism. The result is a structural theory of international politics that also allows for the explanation of actual foreign policy behavior by states. The foreign policy histories of the U.S. and Israel are analyzed using this theoretical approach to show how international social pressure has affected the kinds of roles they have adopted throughout their histories, as well as the kinds of roles that they have not been allowed to adopt. By considering the effects of international socialization attempts on their foreign policy behavior, Thies shows the well-known cases of the U.S. and Israel in a new light.

The United States, Israel, and the Search for International Order argues that the process by which states learn their appropriate roles and behaviors in the international social order is crucial to understanding international conflict and cooperation, which will be significant for those studying both theory and method in international relations, foreign policy, and diplomatic history.


"The core contribution of Cameron Thies’ inaugural book in Routledge’s new series on role theory and foreign policy is the notion of "state socialization." Embedded in the language of role theory, the concept explains how international system structure emerges as a result of the socializing interactions among the units. Importantly, the concept of state socialization allows Thies to account for both continuity and change in the international system. In doing so, Thies’ book offers a solidly constructed bridge between agent and structure in international politics."

—Marijke Breuning, University of North Texas

"The United States, Israel and the Search for International Order is the best monograph on role theory in recent years. Thies provides an intriguing and elegant model that accounts for state socialization using role theory. Going beyond disciplinary and epistemological boundaries, this book establishes a theoretically sophisticated but concise argument for role behavior by established and novice states. It exposes unexpected commonalities of role bearing states in different international orders and introduces convincing causal mechanisms to explain them. This is a signal contribution to role scholarship in IR and Foreign Policy Analysis."

—Sebastian Harnisch, University of Heidelberg

"The book succeeds admirably in its primary aim of opening up the 'black box' of the socialization process and how it operates for states adopting different roles. At a time of intense debate about which states are or should be conferred with Great Power rights and responsibilities, and when phrases such as 'the hegemon', 'rising powers' and 'Southern powers' are commonplace public debate, this book is a timely and important contribution to our understanding of role theory in IR."

- Benjamin Zala, University of Leicester

Table of Contents

1. Improving Structural Theories of International Politics 2. Socializing States in the International System 3. Socializing the United States: Emergence to Major Member 4. Socializing the Unites States: Structural Imperatives and Great Power Status 5. Socializing Israel: Emergence to Major Member 6. Conclusion

About the Author

Cameron G Thies

Tempe, Arizona, United States of America

Learn more about Cameron G Thies >>

Cameron G. Thies is Professor, Harlan E. McGregor Faculty Fellow, and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Iowa. His research focuses on International Relations theory through the contributions of role theory, as well as state building in the developing world. He has published widely in journals such as World Politics, European Journal of International Relations, British Journal of Political Science, and International Studies Quarterly.

About the Series

Role Theory and International Relations

Advisory Board: Marijke Breuning (University of North Texas), Sebastian Harnisch (University of Heidelberg), Valerie Hudson (Texas A & M University), Paul Kowert (Florida International University), Stephen G. Walker (Arizona State University).

The Role Theory and International Relations Series aspires to attract and publish the latest and best research integrating knowledge in the field of International Relations with role theory. This aspiration cuts across a wide swath of subfields, including foreign policy analysis, peace and security studies, international political economy, diplomatic studies, and international organization. While each of these subfields of study is presently organized as an "island of theory," this series intends to integrate their signature phenomena within a system of knowledge, a "theory complex" or an alliance among different subfields. This series showcases the ability of role theory to generate useful theoretical insights on its own or in combination with existing theories across these traditional subfields. Role theory’s conceptual repertoire, plus its ability to span multiple levels of analyses and the major meta-theoretical divides in the discipline position it to be an important integrative force in the study of International Relations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / Diplomacy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / International