Status, emotions, and US-Iran nuclear politics

Solomon, T. (2020) Status, emotions, and US-Iran nuclear politics. In: Koschut, S. (ed.) The Power of Emotions in World Politics. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon ; New York, NY, pp. 130-148. ISBN 9780367347222 (doi: 10.4324/9780429331220-10)

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Following the United States’ 2018 exit from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the “nuclear deal”, relations between the US and Iran remain fraught. Importantly, some of the main tensions in this relationship remain largely inexplicable when viewed through conventional IR theories. Realist and materialist theories are largely unable to explain why the powerful US sees the much weaker Iran as a threat, and individual-level and political psychology theories downplay consideration of how broader cultural politics underpin foreign policies. In contrast, I argue that status concerns – underpinned by emotions – are a key yet underappreciated factor in explaining the contemporary Iran-US relationship. Drawing upon both elite discourses and broader cultural elements, the chapter argues that a “feeling structure” of enmity between the US and Iran structures and (re)produces emotional concerns about status on both sides. Status-confirming emotions (such as pride and shame) and status-disconfirming emotions (such as fear and resentment) are apparent in both Iran and US discourses, and are constitutive components of discursive power more generally. In sum, the chapter empirically illustrates the emotional politics that underpin the Iran–US relationship, and theoretically illustrates that emotions are necessary for more fully understanding the power politics of status concerns.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Solomon, Dr Ty
Authors: Solomon, T.
Subjects:J Political Science > JZ International relations
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Contributor
First Published:First published in The Power of Emotions in World Politics: 130-148
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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