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Nelson Mandela's presidential inauguration invitation to his former jailer; the construction and destruction of the Berlin Wall; the Gulf War's yellow ribbons. While the symbolic nuances of words and actions such as these are regular concerns for foreign policy practitioners, the subject has never been emphasized in international relations theory. That will change with the publication of this exceptionally original work.
Many practitioners see symbolism as peripheral compared to resources, interests, military power, and alliances. Those who theorize about norms, ideas, and institutions tend to be open to the importance of symbolism, but they have not drawn out its details. Barry O'Neill's Honor, Symbols, and War puts symbolism at the center of the discussion. O'Neill uses the mathematical theory of games to study a network of concepts important in international negotiation and conflict resolution: symbolism, honor, face, prestige, insults, and apologies. His analysis clarifies the symbolic dynamics of several phenomena, including leadership, prenegotiation maneuvers, crisis tension, and arms-control agreements.
This book will be of interest to political scientists, in particular those involved with game theory and international relations. Its findings also will prove useful to students of cultural anthropology, sociology, social psychology, and political behavior.
Winner: American Political Science Association's 2000 Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award
Copyright © 1999, University of Michigan. All rights reserved.