How Rhetorical Strategies Reproduce Compromise Agreements: The Case of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime

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How do actors, once they have reached agreement on a compromise, make this compromise persist? Being rooted in mutual concessions, it can never be taken for granted that compromises, once agreed upon, stay in place. Contestation about compliance is something that is very much to be expected and does not inevitably destabilize a compromise. Whether such a destabilization occurs or not depends on how actors communicate with one another. I contend that whether compromise persists or not has a great deal to do with the interplay of offensive and defensive rhetorical strategies that actors employ. I identify six offensive strategies (recourse, elaboration, entrapment, accusation, ostracism, abandonment) and six defensive ones (accommodation, placation, denial, deflection, inattentiveness, rejection), and chart the degrees to which offensive–defensive exchanges of strategies are conducive to reproducing compromises. Recourse–accommodation interplays on the one hand (most conducive) and abandonment–rejection interplays on the other (least conducive) form the poles of the spectrum of exchanges. I probe my theoretical framework by inquiring into the stability of the grand compromise that underpins the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The findings support my framework. The parties have tended to stay away from heavy rhetorical artillery and stuck to less robust rhetorical strategies. Elaboration and placation strategies have played a particularly important role for making the grand compromise persist.

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... How do actors exploit what opportunities to launch a new advocacy? What strategies and counter-strategies (Kornprobst, 2012) do they employ to make their case and with what repercussions for the advocacy and the background? Working towards answering these questions will require more eclectic theorising and empirical analysis. ...
Develops a rhetorical field theory that conceptualises the relationship between background ideas and foreground communication Distinguishes between two layers of background ideas ( nomos and topoi) that underpin communicative encounters in a field Conceptualises communicative opportunities and moves through which actors change the nomos of a field Illustrates the added value of a rhetorical field theory by inquiring into nomic change in the nuclear-weapons field A burgeoning literature in International Relations draws on Bourdieu’s theory of social fields to address the question of how actors make and unmake order in world politics. Inquiring into deeply seated background ideas constituting order, this literature often neglects how communication reproduces and (de)contests background ideas. Our article seeks to remedy this shortcoming by outlining a rhetorical field theory. This theory puts background ideas and foreground communication on an equal footing and conceptualises their relationship in detail. We distinguish between two layers of background ideas ( nomos and topoi) and address the crucial question of how nomic change becomes possible. We introduce a typology of nomic change (destabilisation, adaption, disorientation, shift) and conceptualise the interplay of rhetorical opportunities and rhetorical moves that bring about particular types of nomic change. We probe this theoretical framework by analysing the recent nomic change in the nuclear-weapons field. This empirical analysis provides evidence for our theoretical framework.
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Why are international institutions organized in such different ways?Some, like the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the World HealthOrganization, seek very wide memberships. Others, like the Organizationfor Economic Cooperation and Development and the Group of Eight, aredeliberately restricted. Some, like the UN, cover an extremely broadrange of issues. Others are narrowly focused, dealing with a singleproduct (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, OPEC) or asingle problem (Convention on International Trade in EndangeredSpecies). Some, like the International Monetary Fund (IMF), perform avariety of centralized tasks and even negotiate sensitive economicpolicies with member states. Others do little more than organizemeetings and collate information, as the Asia-Paci c EconomicCooperation forum does for its members. Most institutions allocate votesequally to all members. But a few of the more important institutionsincluding the IMF, European Union (EU), and UN Security Council givelarge members more votes and effective veto power. Some institutions,like the Outer Space Treaty, are built around rigid promises. Others,like the WTO, allow states to alter their obligations when faced withunusual circumstances.
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