Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Foreign Policy Analysis: Conceptualizing Temporality and Otherness in the Role Theory


Role theory, which is based on the symbolic interactionism of George H.
Mead, is increasingly used in foreign policy analysis. The goal of this paper
is twofold. Firstly, the text expands the conceptual framework of role theory
by incorporating the arguments of Mead’s theory of time. We argue that
national roles have not only the relational dimension (the constitution of
roles vis-a-vis others), but also the temporal dimension. Based on the
theory of time, we conceptualize this temporal dimension by introducing
the concepts of historical self and historical other. Secondly, the article
attempts to incorporate in role theory the arguments of poststructuralism
concerning the meaning of otherness and the defining of one another for
the formation of identity. In this view, the symbolic-interactionist process of
“taking the role of the other” and poststructuralist “negative othering” can
be perceived as two extremes on the continuum of modalities of the
constitutive relationship between self and the other.


role theory, symbolic interactionism, poststructuralism, national role, foreign policy analysis, theory of time, othering

PDF Research Article (Czech)

Author Biography

Vít Beneš

Vít Beneš is a lecturer at the Department of International Relations and European
Studies, Metropolitan University Prague. He holds a Ph.D. from the
University of Economics, Prague and for several years he worked as a
researcher at the Institute of International Relations in Prague. He has been
teaching courses on international relations theory, European integration
and research methodology. His research interests focus on the political and
institutional aspects of the European integration, EU institutional reform
and EU enlargement. He is also studying Czech foreign policy, and Czech
policy towards the EU. He is the author of numerous articles in peer-reviewed journals (Journal of Common Market Studies; Cooperation and
Conflict, and others) and chapters in monographs on the topics of research
methodology, theory of international relations, EU enlargement and the
European dimension of Czech foreign policy.