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Lee, Donna and Hocking, Brian (2011) Diplomacy. In: Badie, Bertrand and Berk-Scholosser, Dirk and Morlino, Leonardo, eds. The International Encyclopaedia of Political Science. Sage. ISBN 978-1-4129-5963-6. (doi:10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0012) (KAR id:38123)


In its broadest sense, diplomacy refers to the conduct of human affairs by peaceful means, employing techniques of persuasion and negotiation. In the more specific sphere of international politics, through the utilisation of such techniques, it has come to be regarded as one of the key processes characterising the international system and a defining institution of the system of sovereign states - often referred to as the “Westphalian” system after the 1684 Peace of Westphalia. Its usage, however, embraces some important distinctions. First, at the state level, it has frequently been used (particularly in studies of diplomatic history) as a synonym for foreign policy – as in “Russian”, “German” and “Japanese” diplomacy (foreign policy). More commonly, however, it is used to refer to one means by which such policies are implemented. Second, viewed as an institution of the international system, a distinction can be made between diplomacy as a set of processes and as a set of structures through which these processes are conducted. Debates about the continuing utility of diplomacy in contemporary international politics frequently reflect confusion between these meanings. In the course of the following discussion, the origins of diplomacy are outlined together with differing analytical approaches to its nature and significance as a feature of international politics. The changing nature of diplomatic processes is then discussed followed by an examination of the evolution of the structures through which diplomacy has been conducted at both the state and international levels.

Item Type: Book section
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0012
Uncontrolled keywords: diplomacy, realism, foreign policy, diplomatic practice, dipomatic theory, international relations
Subjects: J Political Science
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Donna Lee
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2014 21:25 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 11:33 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Lee, Donna.

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