(De-)stigmatising the outsider: nuclear-armed India, United States, and the global nonproliferation order

  • Michal SmetanaEmail author
Original Article


In this article, I employ an interactionist perspective from sociology to examine the dynamics of de-stigmatisation of nuclear-armed India after the 1998 nuclear tests. Drawing on Erving Goffman and other interactionist scholars, I study the social dimension of India’s transformation from ‘nuclear pariah’ to a ‘responsible’ nuclear-armed power that plays by the global non-proliferation rules even though it remains outside of the NPT club. I trace the interactive process of the normalisation of India’s deviant identity in nuclear politics, highlighting the key role of the United States in the de-stigmatisation of India’s outsider status, as well as the power-laden factors underpinning the process. Beyond the empirical contribution, I elaborate on discursive strategies that states employ to normalise their disvalued identities. By conceptually unpacking the logic of normalisation and de-stigmatisation in international politics, I aim to contribute to the current debates in International Relations about norms and deviance in world order.


Deviance Stigma Norms Interactionism Nuclear weapons NPT Non-proliferation India 



I am grateful to Harald Müller, Jeff Lantis, Virginie Grzelczyk, Katerina Krulisova, Jan Ludvik, three anonymous reviewers, and the Journal of International Relations and Development editorial team for their valuable comments, ideas, and recommendations. I acknowledge funding by the Charles University Research Centre programme UNCE/HUM/028 (Peace Research Center Prague/Faculty of Social Sciences).


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Interviews in order of appearance in text

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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Peace Research Center PragueCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic

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