The Politics of Subjectivity in American Foreign Policy Discourses

Ty Solomon
An intriguing look at the role of affect, identity, and discourse in world politics and in the context of recent U.S. foreign policy


Why are some discourses more politically efficacious than others? Seeking answers to this question, Ty Solomon develops a new theoretical approach to the study of affect, identity, and discourse—core phenomena whose mutual interweaving have yet to be fully analyzed in International Relations. Drawing upon Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory and Ernesto Laclau’s approach to hegemonic politics, Solomon argues that prevailing discourses offer subtle but powerfully appealing opportunities for affective investment on the part of audiences.

Through empirical case studies of the affective resonances of the war on terror and the rise and fall of neoconservative influence in American foreign policy, Solomon offers a unique way to think about the politics of identity as the construction of “common sense” powerfully underpinned by affective investments. He provides both a fuller understanding of the emotional appeal of political rhetoric in general and, specifically, a provocative explanation of the reasons for the reception of particular U.S. foreign policy rhetoric that shifted Americans’ attitudes toward neoconservative foreign policy in the 1990s and shaped the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

“Solomon has developed a novel, creative framework for approaching this timeless and timely aspect of political theory and practice.”
—Robert Schuett, School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University

“Solomon offers an innovative view on the politics of subjectivity as the construction of ‘common sense’ powerfully underpinned by investments of desire. While these aspects have been discussed in political theory, the debate in IR has only just begun and will be further triggered by this fascinating book.”
—Dirk Nabers, Kiel University

Cover image: © John_Woodcock / iStock

Ty Solomon is Lecturer in International Relations in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow.

Praise / Awards

  • " important and original application of a theoretical method, written with confident lucidity."
    --Political Studies Review
  • "A rigorous and compelling study that succeeds in retraining discourse analysis onto the affective undercurrents that sustain the symbols, identities, and other representations that have for so long captured the attention of constructivist research."
    --Perspectives on Politics

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Product Details

  • 264 pages.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12066-6

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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  • US foreign policy, war on terror, neoconservatism, September 11, 2001, discourse, emotions, desire, subjectivity, identity, Lacan, Laclau, psychoanalysis, hegemony