The Social Construction of Mistakes: Germany’s Abstention on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 on Libya

  • Kai Oppermann
  • Alexander Spencer


The chapter explores how Germany’s abstention in the UN Security Council vote on Resolution 1973 in March 2011 regarding the military intervention in Libya was constituted as a mistake in German media reporting. To this purpose, we introduce narrative analysis as a discourse-analytical method for investigating the social construction of foreign policy mistakes. Based on insights from literary studies and Narratology, the chapter suggests that stories of mistakes have a number of key elements, including a particular setting which defines appropriate behaviour, the negative characterization of agents as well as an emplotment of mistakes through the attribution of cause and responsibility.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Oppermann
    • 1
  • Alexander Spencer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of SussexBrightonUK
  2. 2.Institute of Social Sciences and HistoryOtto-von-Guericke University MagdeburgMagdeburgGermany

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