Call for papers – SISP Annual Convention 2017

We are pleased to announce the call for papers for the next SISP (Società Italiana di Scienza Politica) Annual Convention.

The conference will be hosted by the University of Urbino (14-16 September 2017)

Here you’ll find all the info on the convention. You should register at MySISP.

You can submit your abstract before May 29th. Among panels (which can be found in the MySISP section) we suggest the following (also because you’ll find Venus..):

Section “International Relations”

Panel 8.2 “Political parties and Foreign Policy. Theories, approaches, and empirical research in the field of Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA)

Chairs: Giampiero Cama, Fabrizio Coticchia

According to Kaarbo (2015), many of the International Relations (IR) theories still ignore “decades of research in foreign policy analysis” on how domestic political and decision-making factors affect actors’ choices and policies. Several authors attempted to integrate Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA) and Role Theory and National Role Conceptions (NRC), stressing how FPA can provide insights into the mass—elite nexus and intra-elite conflicts, while the NRC literature could incorporate the use of ideas and identity in foreign policymaking. Despite a significant attention towards the role of Italian (and European) national identity and its defense policy, such attempt has been seldom addressed. On the contrary, FPA is still marginal within the Italian (and even European) theoretical debate while the few analyses on political actors, parties and foreign and security issues have developed theoretical approaches explicitly related to FPA. Concerning Italy, some authors provided a comprehensive analysis of post-Cold War foreign policy, stressing the role of ideas and discourse in the interplay between strategic actors and strategically selective context. Other have focused on the role-concept that Italy developed in the first years after its reunification, emphasizing its inconsistency and the “perverse” dynamic between internal weakness and international recognition. However, scarce interest has been devoted (by the Italian as well as by the European literature) to the relationship between political parties, coalitions, foreign and defense policy. Therefore, a greater “attention to human decision makers”, which is conceived the fundamental contribution of FPA to IR (Hudson 2005), could be extremely relevant for the development of the debate, also in comparative perspective (Europe and beyond).
The panel aims at addressing such need, exploring FPA contributions from different theoretical and geographical perspectives. Thus, we invite papers that investigate: the interactions between the domestic structure of European countries and the international context; the material and ideational factors as determinants of state behaviour; the formation of domestic preferences (by looking at political elites and significant domestic groups that are involved in the decision-making process); domestic constraints to the executive’s power in foreign policy; the personalization of politics and coalition foreign policy; the impact of party ideology on foreign policy, etc.

 

Section “Research Methodology”

(Italian) Panel 11.2 La ricerca empirica nelle Relazioni Internazionali. Metodi e prospettive a confronto

Negli ultimi due decenni la ricerca empirica nell’ambito delle Relazioni Internazionali ha acquisito notevole forza. I temi di ricerca spaziano, andando a intersecarsi con la politica comparata, l’economia, l’analisi delle politiche pubbliche. Allo stesso modo, i metodi utilizzati dai ricercatori nei loro studi si sono diversificati e raffinati. Riteniamo sia importante un momento di riflessione sul rapporto fra teoria e ricerca empirica, così come un confronto fra ricercatori che lavorano prevalentemente con metodi quantitativi e ricercatori che lavorano prevalentemente con metodi qualitativi, per evitare la formazione di compartimenti stagni e lavorare alla complementarietà degli approcci. Proponiamo dunque una tavola rotonda che metta a tema il percorso svolto fino a ora dalla ricerca empirica nelle Relazioni Internazionali, proponga riflessioni sulle direzioni future e favorisca un confronto costruttivo fra esperti di metodi diversi.
I partecipanti alla tavola rotonda che hanno già confermato la propria disponibilità sarebbero i seguenti:
Stefano Costalli (Università di Firenze) – Chair
Fabrizio Coticchia (Università di Genova)
Federica Genovese (University of Essex)
Francesco Moro (Università di Bologna)
Chiara Ruffa (Swedish Defense University)
Andrea Ruggeri (University of Oxford)

 

See you in Urbino.

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Venus in Arms at the next BISA Conference: “Italian Foreign Policy and Radical Parties”

Venus in Arms will be at the 40th Anniversary BISA (British International Studies Association) Conference (London, 16th-19th June 2015).

Here you’ll find the programme and other details.

We will present the paper: “The Limits of Radical Parties in Coalition Foreign Policy: Italy, Hijacking, and the Extremity Hypothesis” (F.Coticchia and J.Davidson). The paper has been recently accepted by Foreign Policy Analysis for publication (forthcoming).

Here below the abstract:

Scholarly consensus increasingly suggests that coalition governments produce more extreme foreign policies than single party governments. This, the literature argues, is especially likely when coalition governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival, as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. A look at Italy’s Second Republic center-left governments and decisions on military operations provides an important counterpoint to the extremity hypothesis. In three high profile cases of military operations–Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2006-08–Italy had a center-left government that depended on radical parties for its survival. In all cases the parties took a position against military operations but did not prevent the government from engaging in/continuing operations by threatening survival or forcing the government’s fall. Our paper seeks to explain the irrelevance of leftist radical parties in Italy’s Second Republic. We argue first that radical parties are reluctant to threaten or force government collapse as this can lead to a center right coalition coming to office and voters’ blame for the outcome. Second, we claim that relative salience has been critical: foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues and it has been more important to center-left parties than radical ones. Finally, we argue that radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics (e.g., attending protests) and have affected the implementation of military operations.

See you in London

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ViA at the SISP Annual Conference

 

Venus in Arms comes back to work after summer break. ViA will be at the SISP (Italian Political Science Association) Annual Conference. As illustrated in a previous post, the SISP Meeting will be held in Perugia at end of the next week (11-13 September).

The conference is organized by the Department of Political Science of the University of Perugia and the Department of Human and Social Sciences of the University for Foreigners of Perugia. The conference venue will be the Department of Political Science, University of Perugia, Via Pascoli, 20 – 06123 Perugia.

Here you’ll find the final programme of the conference. The abstracts of papers, panels and sections are here.

Venus in Arms will be present in four panels, focusing on intelligence, foreign policy analysis and Italian defense.

We will discuss the relationship between intelligence and national interest in a globalized world. We also present a paper on the historical evolution of Italian defense, stressing main innovations and obstacles. Finally, a co-authored work (with Michela Ceccorulli) will assess different interpretations of the Italian military engagement in Libya.

See you there

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“The Italian Left and Foreign Policy”: Conference Programme

As already illustrated in a previous post (here), the conference “The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” will be held in Cambridge (UK) on 9th June 2014.

Here you’ll find the (very promising) the conference programme

Venus in Arms will be at the conference, participating at the SESSION III – PANEL VI (The post-Cold War: A Post-ideological Left for a Post- Foreign Policy?) with the paper: ‘The Irrelevance of Radical Parties in Coalition Foreign Policy: Italy and the Polarization Hypothesis’ (Jason Davidson – Mary Washington & Fabrizio Coticchia – Sant’Anna, Pisa).

Here below the abstract

Scholarly consensus increasingly suggests that coalition governments produce more polarized foreign policies than single party governments. This, the literature argues, is especially likely when coalition governments include radical parties that take extreme positions on foreign policy issues and are “critical” to the government’s survival as the radical parties push the centrist ones toward the extremes. A look at Italy’s post-Cold War center-left governments and decisions on military operations provides an important counterpoint to the polarization hypothesis. In three high profile cases of military operations–Albania 1997, Kosovo 1999, and Afghanistan 2007–Italy had a center-left government that depended on radical parties for its survival. In all cases the parties took a position against military operations but did not prevent the government from engaging in/extending operations by threatening survival or forcing the government’s fall. Our paper seeks to explain the irrelevance of leftist radical parties in Italy in the post-Cold War period. We argue first that radical parties are reluctant to threaten/force government collapse as this can lead to a center right coalition coming to office and voters’ blame for the outcome. Second, we argue that relative salience has been critical: foreign policy has been less important to radical parties than domestic issues and it has been more important to center-left parties than radical ones. Finally, we argue that radical parties have appealed to their voters through theatrical politics (e.g., attending protests) and have affected the implementation of military operations.

See you there

 

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The War That Wasn’t There? Italy’s “Peace Mission” in Afghanistan, Strategic Narratives and Public Opinion

AFGHANISTAN: MILITARI ITALIANI SEQUESTRANO ORDIGNI A FARAH

(Ansa)

By Fabrizio Coticchia

The military operation in Afghanistan is the most important mission undertaken by the Italian armed forces since the end of WWII. The public opinion supported the intervention until mid-2009. Then, the percentage of approval for the mission dropped considerably. In a paper that “Foreign Policy Analysis” has just released in early view (here gated) I’ve examined different perspectives in order to understand the drop of consensus that occurred in the Italian case.

The aim of the paper (co-authored with Carolina de Simone) is to investigate the features and evolution of the main strategic narratives adopted by political leaders to interpret the Italian military involvement in Afghanistan between 2011 and 2011. The research stems from the perspective suggested by Ringsmose and Børgesen on the key role of strategic narratives in the understanding of the variations in public opinion support towards military operations. The questions this study seeks to answer are: how have politicians crafted strategic narratives on the Afghan mission? How have these storylines influenced public opinion during the conflict?

The level of support towards the operation in Afghanistan collapsed after the mid of 2009. A first supposition related to this drop deals with the correlation between mounting casualties and the fall of public approval. The issue of casualty intolerance has been repeatedly used in the literature to explain the loss of popularity of military operations. Other possible interpretations are related to the traditional approaches in public opinion literature that focus on the impact of the “fatigue” towards a protracted conflict, the scarce policy success of the mission or the dramatic changes of aims and conditions of the intervention. Then the paper compares the above-mentioned views with the “strategic narrative assumption”. According to such perspective, the type of (ineffective) narrative adopted by the Italian governmental actors plays a prominent role in understanding of the decline of support in 2009. Has the disproportionate gap between the storyline, based on the traditional values of peace and multilateralism, and the war-torn reality on the ground, affected the level of public approval? Or have the ways through which narratives were built in 2009 played a more important role?

The preliminary findings of this study confirm the relevance of strategic narratives to interpret the attitudes of public opinion. No significant correspondence between casualties and support emerge, while the results reveal that the ineffective and inconsistent way in which a well-established and shared strategic narrative (centred on peace and multilateralism) has been modified is the key variable for understanding the collapse of public approval. The strategic narrative crafted by governmental actors after 2008, which aimed at explaining the change of approach on the ground, has proven unsuccessful. This failure can be weighed against the main features of a “strong narrative”, such as those identified by Ringsmose and Børgesen: the strategic narrative of the Italian government showed lack of clarity, incoherence, inconsistency, and inability to prepare the public for dramatic events.

The paper, which relies extensively on empirical data such as polls and interviews, illustrates that cultural variables were crucial in order to understand Italian military operations abroad. A shared strategic culture based on the frames of multilateralism and peace remains embedded in Italian public opinion. Without a coherent and appropriate (alternative) strategic narrative, the attempt to shift from traditional conceptual references, even when the context of the intervention requires adopting new frameworks, is doomed to fail. This is exactly what happened in the case of ISAF.

Here below the abstract:

Factors as culture, values, and symbols are crucial to understand the evolution of the Italian foreign and defense policy. However, scholars’ attention to such variables in the study of Italian defense policies still leaves many gaps. Since the end of the Cold War, Italian troops have been constantly engaged in military operations abroad spreading a “peacekeeper image” of Italy in the international arena. The goal of this work is to investigate the features and the evolution of the main strategic narratives adopted by political leaders to interpret the Italian military involvement in Afghanistan. How have politicians crafted strategic narratives on the Afghan mission? How have these story lines influenced public opinion during the conflict? Has the disproportionate gap between the storyline, based on the traditional values of peace and multilateralism, and the war-torn reality on the ground, affected the level of public approval? Or have the ways in which narratives were built in 2009 played a more significant role? In order to answer these questions, this paper relies on polls, content analysis of parliamentary debates, and public discourse analysis (2001–2011).

If you are interested in strategic narratives look also at here, here, here, and (in Italian) here.

 

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“The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” (Cambridge, 9th June 2014)

A conference on “The Italian Left and Foreign Policy” will be held in Cambridge (UK) on 9th June 2014. The interdisciplinary approach will be the main feature of the event that aims at bringing together established academics and young scholars from different fields (History, IR, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Political Science, Economics, etc.) in order to discuss the relationship between Italian left and foreign policy. The upcoming Italy’s European Semester Presidency Italian is a scenario that requires a detailed analysis of the transformations occurred to Italian parties and policies.

Among the topics on the agenda:

  • The Italian Left between Americanism and Anti-americanism: historical and contemporary perspectives
  • Internationalism and a national way: the Italian Left faces the world
  • European priorities of the Italian Left: change or continuity?
  • The Italian Left, foreign policy and the use of force
  • Exit geopolitics? Strategic priorities in and beyond the three circles
  • The Italian Left, civil society and foreign policy
  •  Proposals for a ‘progressive’ reform of the foreign policy machinery
  • Foreign policy and the politics of the Italian Left: bridge over troubled waters
  • The Italian Left and Foreign Policy in a Comparative perspective: insights from European cases.

Venus in Arms aims at attending the conference with a paper on Italian radical parties and defense policy in the post-Cold War era. An attempt to test (or better, to confute) the “polarization hypothesis” in the Italian case. For a look at previous ViA works on similar issues check out here (gated)

Unfortunately the deadline of the call for papers is already expired. But the event is extremely interesting, thus we suggest a brief tour to Cambridge.

The conference is organised by Elisabetta Brighi, Lilia Giugni, and Marta Musso, in cooperation with the Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Cambridge, the Association for the Study of Modern Italy (ASMI) and the Cambridge Italian Research Network (CIRN).

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