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What role[s] do expectations play in norm dynamics?

Abstract

Despite the central importance often placed on expectations in defining norms, expectations are routinely invoked in a fleeting manner. When they are, expectations are utilised in many different ways, without anyone acknowledging this, which creates confusion. The article argues that expectations should not be viewed as playing a singular role in the norm process. Instead, it puts forward three roles that expectations play in norm dynamics: (i) norms embody expectations, (ii), norms generate expectations, (iii), that different actor expectations have a direct bearing on how norms travel. In so doing, the article seeks to catalyse a much-needed conversation over the concept of expectations in norm dynamics. To aid this, the interdisciplinary analysis draws on Political Psychology, Economics, and Political Science to highlight that other disciplines have spent decades analysing the complexities of expectations. The conclusion offers five recommendations to guide future interdisciplinary research on this underexplored issue.

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Notes

  1. Linked to this, there have been many studies on aspects such as identity but not on expectations. For the former, see Choi (2015) and Gurowitz (2007).

  2. Wiener regards this as ‘the most influential definition of norms’ (2007: 49).

  3. For more examples, see Park and Vetterlein (2010: 4); Hansen‑Magnusson et al. (2018: 11), Price (2019: 38).

  4. See also (Brockmeier 2013, 81).

  5. See (Docherty et al. 2020)

  6. Essentially, this underpins his later work on ‘norm circulation’ capturing ‘multiple-agency, two-way, multistep process of norm diffusion based on resistance, feedback and repatriation’ (2013: 471).

  7. At this time of writing (February 2021), it is the third most cited in International Organization (International Organization, International Organization 2021).

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Correspondence to Adrian Gallagher.

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Benedict Doherty: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the School of Politics and International Studies, Research Seminar Series, University of Leeds, February 2020. The Future of Norm Studies Symposium, University of Queensland, July 2018. The International Studies Association Catalyst Workshop, Taking Stock of the Past to Shape the Future of Norm Studies, Baltimore, February 2017. The authors would like to thank the following for their constructive comments throughout the process, Amitav Acharya, Antje Wiener, Christopher Hill, Cristina Stefan, Jacqui True, Jason Ralph, Kate Dommett, Kathryn Sikkink, Luke Glanville, Martha Finnemore, Nicholas Onuf, Phil Orchard, Richard Price, and Sam Jarvis.

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Gallagher, A., Docherty, B. What role[s] do expectations play in norm dynamics?. Int Polit 59, 227–243 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41311-021-00297-1

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Keywords

  • Norms
  • Expectations
  • Roles
  • Norm structure
  • Norm travel
  • Norm dynamics