International Politics

, Volume 43, Issue 3, pp 305–341 | Cite as

The Diffusion of International Norms: Why Identity Matters

  • Amy Gurowitz


As the literature on international norms grows beyond documenting that norms matter, scholars have increasingly responded to the challenge that they must account for why and when they matter by looking at variation in the impact of those norms across time and place. This article looks at issues surrounding state identity as one understudied factor in determining why norms matter more in some places than others. We know that domestic and international actors often use norms to back-up and make arguments for which they often have few or weak domestic resources. But the context for the use of those norms is important. Mobilization and invocation of international norms domestically occurs within the context of a state's identity and the degree to which those norms are helpful to the actors who use them depends, among other things, on the identity of the target state. This article joins the discussion about norm diffusion by examining two cases involving the incorporation of non-citizens: Germany and Japan. A comparison of these cases suggests that identity and identity crises matter in understanding the differential diffusion of international norms.


identity norms non-citizens Germany Japan 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amy Gurowitz
    • 1
  1. 1.Political Science Department and Peace and Conflict Studies ProgramUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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