Patronage is a ubiquitous feature of international politics. Indeed, in the past, the great powers have pursued a foreign policy based on the “acquisition of customer states” (Sylvan and Majeski, 2003). During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in this type of foreign policy in several regions of the world (Waltz, 1993; Sylvan and Majeski, 2003; Veenendaal, 2014). At present, American offshore hegemony (Mearsheimer, 2001) in East Asia is mainly a system made up of customer states (Ikenberry, 2011). China has also drawn customer states into its “sphere of influence” like Cambodia (Ciorciari, 2013) and is expanding its tentacles to the blind spots of American hegemony (Ikenberry, 2011), mainly in Africa and Latin America. Patronage therefore appears to be a powerful force influencing state behavior and international politics as a whole. The study of patronage between states, however, could be viewed as an “underdeveloped area of international relations theory” (Stables, 1996).
This article explores two topics. First, it provides a synthetic overview of how International Relations (IR) scholars have talked about patronage, mainly since the concept was first introduced through the Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) subsection in the 1980s. Second, it shows that research based on patronage would benefit greatly from a dialogue with two theoretical trends that have been introduced in IR theory over the past few decades: role theory and emotion theory. By bridging these ontologies, I invite IR scholars to learn more about how “Politics of Gratitude” works at the level of international politics.
Patronage and IR Theory
IR scientists have not yet developed a research program within the IR discipline to address the phenomenon of patronage between states. There are several reasons for this. First, studies based on interstate patronage have taken a narrow perspective. Since they were only pursuing the development of a “conceptual framework” (Carney, 1993; Stables, 1996), there were no ambitions for theorising. Second, patronage is viewed primarily as an “instrumental strategy” (Jaffrelot, 2012) pursued by rational actors – unitary and rational states – to “benefit” from the relationship (Carney, 1989; 1993; Stables, 1996; Sylvan and Majeski), 2003; Jaffrelot, 2012; Veenendaal, 2014). Consequently, customer-customer relationships are short-lived alliances in the interstate landscape because they are out there as long as benefits are obtained. Eventually, research focused on “dyads” as the main structural element of this international hierarchy. However, scholars have also looked at “clientelistic networks” (Médard, 2000) and international systems consisting of “client states” (Ikenberry, 2011).
The patron client model
The patron-client model (PCM) was first introduced in the Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) sub-area and defines the patron-client relationship as negotiated Solution to the problem of uncertainty between unequal states (Shoemaker & Spanier, 1984; Carney, 1989; Stables, 1996). Why Sovereign States Enter voluntary in this special relationship? The PCM answers this question by determining the reasons for the customer-customer relationship based on the “benefits” extracted from the relationship.
Great powers expect above all to benefit from “intangible goods” such as “ideological convergence” and “international solidarity”. They also expect a “strategic advantage” over rivals (Carney, 1989; 1993; Stables, 1996). By luring allies into their sphere of influence, the great powers want to “advertise their particular ideology as superior” (Carney, 1989: 49). Hence there are client states Committed to reciprocate the generosity of patronage through “gestures” of solidarity and loyalty. Great powers also use the territory of the customer states as a geostrategic fortress to dissuade opponents from doing so. In geostrategic terms, customer-customer relationships could be viewed as deterrent intergovernmental alliances. Client states also benefit greatly from this special relationship with great powers. From a rational point of view, the cost of losing some independence or sovereignty from the point of view of low-skill states is less than the benefits of alliance with a superior power. When sovereign states become “customers” of the great powers, they do so to improve both “regional security” and “legitimacy” in the home (Shoemaker & Spanier; Carney, 1989, 1992; Stables, 1996). For customer states, it must pay off very well, both militarily and economically, to have a powerful “friend” in the harsh environment of international politics (Carney, 1989; 1993; Stables, 1996). When the relationship is used to improve the well-being of the national population, the alliance is well perceived and promoted, since national well-being is primarily related to the influence of that particular international partner (Carney, 1989: 48).
The PCM offers good insights from a rational selection perspective. It helps to answer the following question: why states enter into this particular bilateral relationship. However, IR scientists have only sought to develop a “conceptual framework” (Graziano, 1976; Eisenstadt & Roniger, 1980; Carney, 1989; 1993; Stables, 1996). If Theories are “mental images” or “artistic creations” that have been constructed to explain logical relationships between significant elements isolated from a complex reality (Waltz, 2010). conceptual framework deal only with the specification of “empirical properties” (Graziano, 1976). I believe that focusing on empirical properties leads research to patronage to tautological and functional explanations. To push the PCM boundaries, I propose an interdisciplinary dialogue with new theoretical trends flourishing on the verge of IR.
Bridging ontologies: patronage, role theory and emotion theory
Patronage research has a common theoretical basis with research on “roles” and “emotions”. In this section I will advocate dialogue between these research programs.
Roles and patronage
Role theory and research based on patronage were not consciously linked by IR scientists. This is surprising since customer-customer relationships can easily be designed as Role structures from representation practices of the self and the other (patron & client). Patron and customer are thus two complementary and co-constitutive roles / identities that political actors – in this case states – must internalize and carry out so that these international structures can acquire the “corporation” of an institution.
The concept of “role” was first introduced in the study of international relations in the sub-area of Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) (Thies, 2017; Harnisch, 2011; Nabers, 2011; Breuning, 2011; Holsti, 1970). In his seminal article, Karl Holsti (1970) argued that “national role concepts” of decision-makers influence the foreign policy of states. Holsti’s reasoning dealt mainly with the “ego” part of the equation, which is a limit to itself, but his research opened the door to role theory in the IR discipline (Thies, 2017; Harnisch, 2011). In the 1990s, IR scientists like Alexander Wendt (1999) dealt with role theory again by advocating “symbolic interactionism” and “structuringism”. Wendt viewed from such an intellectual place To change‘s “expectations” in the process by which “roles / identities” are constructed, arguing that “anarchy is what states make of it” (1992), ie a “structure of roles” made up of “collective representations” consists of the self and others (Wend, 1999). From a social constructivist point of view, the term “role” is therefore defined as “social identity” that is “carried out” during social interaction (Harnisch, 2011; Wendt, 1999). Following Wendt, I argue that customer-customer relationships could be better than understood Structures of complementary and co-constitutive roles. In this sense, it would be correct to claim that customer-customer relationships as “role structures” shape the interests, identities and behaviors of states, and yet IR scientists do not have the theoretical tools necessary to combat such phenomena.
Emotions and patronage
“Emotions” can be found everywhere in international politics and in customer-customer relationships. Christopher Carney (1989: 46) defines customer-customer relationships as “asymmetrical dyads, which are characterized by a strong element of Affectivity“(Emphasis added). Veenendaal (2014: 4-5) also argues that there must be” an element of affectivity or loyalty [present] So we can speak of an international connection between customer and customer. “In this article we consider“ emotions ”as an“ umbrella ”concept that encompasses related concepts such as“ feelings ”and“ affection ”(Clément & Sangar, 2018). We are not concerned with debating their ontological distinctions.
In mainstream IR theory, emotions are unproblematic features of international politics because they are difficult to define, measure, and isolate from other factors (Crawford, 2015; Gregory & Ahall, 2015). One way to address the complexity of emotions is to think of them as “hybrids” made up of at least three elements: “body responses”, “feelings” and “cognitive elements” (Coicaud, 2014). The idea that emotions are “physical reactions” and “physiological experiences” is problematic for state-centered approaches in IR, since from a materialistic point of view the state has neither really “a body” nor a “conscience”. As a result, states cannot “feel”, as only individuals have the ability to express emotions (Lowenheim and Heimann, 2008). State-centered approaches in IR such as neorealism, neoliberalism and social constructivism, however, conceptualize the state as a “corporate agent” capable of “acting” and expressing “emotions” (fear) with “intentions” (maximizing security). But to be expressed cognitively, emotions need both a body and a consciousness. IR scientists like Alexander Wendt (1999) have argued that the state has a “body”. Wendt (2015) also recognizes, however, that “consciousness” is not yet in the state. Conceiving the state as an “agent” is still problematic because a body without consciousness is a dead body, not a living one. A solution to this tension has been given by emotion theorists in the IR. They have localized emotions within “corporate actors” such as states in the “emotional experiences” of “individuals who compose them, identify with them and are constituted by them” (Lowenheim and Heimann, 2008: 690).
The missing link
How are “patronage” and “emotions” related? I am arguing here that “gratitude” is the missing link. Social psychologists have defined gratitude as a “moral emotion” (McCoullough & Tsang, 2004) with “positive value” because gratitude for the benefits received implies the recognition that “another person has intentionally given or attempted to give something of Wert “(Bartlett & DeSteno, 2006: 319). In psychological parlance, feelings of gratitude are associated with the recognition “This has achieved a positive result” from “an external source” (Emmons, 2004: 9). As a “positive emotion” in connection with the exchange of gifts (Komter, 2004), feelings of gratitude for the benefits received seem to promote both “reciprocity” and the “bond of trust” between selfish and rational actors (Harpham, 2004). But gratitude can also be understood as an emotion associated with a certain kind of “moral compulsion”. As Komter (2004: 195) noted, “lies beneath warm feelings of gratitude compelling force [emphasis added] this forces us to return the benefit we have received ”. In other words, feelings of gratitude are closely related to feelings of “indebtedness,” that is, the idea that a “debt of gratitude” has been incurred (Callard, 2019; Roberts & Telech, 2019). In relation to international politics, the term “debt of gratitude” opens a window to what the historian Louis A. Pérez (2008: 4) has termed the “politics of gratitude”. From this point of departure, the world of international relations becomes a world in which low-skill states often incur “debt of gratitude” with major powers by exchanging international “gifts”. Still, IR scientists have not developed the theoretical tools to address the phenomenon of “politics of gratitude” and how it really works in international politics.
This article followed two main topics. First, an overview was given of how IR scientists have spoken about patronage in the field of foreign policy analysis since the concept was introduced. The Patron-Client model has been shown to be a good starting point for researchers whose goal is to find an explanation Why sovereign states enter into a customer-customer relationship voluntarily. Research based on patronage pinpoints the “reasons” for states’ behavior within the benefits derived from the relationship. The protecting powers expect that they will mainly benefit from “intangible” goods such as ideological orientation and international solidarity while pursuing a foreign policy based on the acquisition of geostrategic advantages over rivals and enemies. Client states also benefit from the relationship with a great power by using “their sovereignty as a negotiating instrument” (Veenendaal, 2014: 3). They expect to extract from the relational resources that are critical to their regional problems and domestic politics. From the perspective of low-skill states, it is of great value to have only one powerful “friend” in the anarchic environment of international relations (Carney, 1989; 1993; Stables, 1996).
In the second part, I argued that actual research would benefit greatly from a dialogue with two theoretical trends developing on the fringes of IR theory: role theory and emotion, to better understand how patronage at the international level Politics really works in theory. Given their theoretical similarities, I argued that customer-customer relationships could be better conceptualized by addressing concepts such as “politics of gratitude” and “debt of gratitude”. In this way I invite IR scientists to theoretically deal with these “role structures” out of “gratitude” as political power in order to show how these international structures shape the identity, interests and behavior of states. So far research on patronage has not done this. This error can mean two things. First: customer-customer relationships have no structural impact at all. Second, the actual theoretical effort has been insufficient. My bet goes to the second horse.
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