The Pitfalls of a Responsible Seonjinguk: A Role-based Approach to South Korea’s Middle Power Activism across the Regional-Global Divide

Frassineti, Francesca (2020) The Pitfalls of a Responsible Seonjinguk: A Role-based Approach to South Korea’s Middle Power Activism across the Regional-Global Divide, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Studi globali e internazionali - global and international studies, 32 Ciclo.
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Within the framework of South Korea’s middle power diplomacy, the thesis examines the adaptive response of its foreign policy to the challenges in the regional order and domestic environment posed by the demise of the Cold War system and the country’s transition to democracy. By taking middle power as a role set, the study offers a framework of analysis constructed from a selective review of the literature on middle powers and role theory. Against this backdrop, it is posited that a relational approach to role theory complemented with the toolkit provided by an interpretive perspective to foreign policy allows a more comprehensive analysis of South Korea’s efforts to be recognised as a solid responsible stakeholder. It is argued that through a three-decade-long process, South Korea’s foreign policy elites have succeeded in matching mid-range material capabilities, whose foundations were set during the authoritarian era, with the aspirations and willingness to act as an “advanced nation.” In this regard, the thesis offers an extensive and critical review of Seoul’s contributions to global governance – e.g. ODA and PKOs – and regional cooperation and economic integration as representative of its niche diplomacy. Although South Korea’s diplomatic clout in international affairs has increased, the study contends that the pursuit of its middlepowermanship is still severely limited by the hurdles pertaining to its volatile geopolitical environment and domestic milieu. Against this background, the study contributes to ongoing debates about the relevance of non-material determinants to South Korea’s foreign policy analysis which has traditionally put greater emphasis on structural explanations instead. By considering Seoul as one of the leaders in a wider wave of non-traditional middle powers, the thesis also aims to enrich the debates on middlepowerdom that have long featured precepts based on Western-centric empirical studies.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Frassineti, Francesca
Dottorato di ricerca
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
South Korea; Middle Power Diplomacy
Data di discussione
20 Marzo 2020

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