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The 'knowledge politics' of democratic peace theory

Parmar, I. (2013). The 'knowledge politics' of democratic peace theory. International Politics, 50(2), pp. 231-256. doi: 10.1057/ip.2013.4


How do academic ideas influence US foreign policy, under what conditions and with what consequences? This article traces the rise, ‘securitisation’ and political consequences of democratic peace theory (DPT) in the United States by exploring the work of Doyle, Diamond and Fukuyama. Ideas influence US foreign policy under different circumstances, but are most likely to do either during and after crises when the policy environment permits ‘new thinking’, or when these ideas have been developed through state-connected elite knowledge networks, or when they are (or appear paradigmatically congenial to) foreign policymakers’ mindsets, or, finally, when they become institutionally-embedded. The appropriation of DPT by foreign policymakers has categorised the world into antagonistic blocs – democratic/non-democratic zones of peace/turmoil – as the corollary to a renewed American mission to make the world ‘safer’ through ‘democracy’ promotion. The roles of networked organic intellectuals – in universities and think tanks, for instance – were particularly important in elevating DPT from the academy to national security managers.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in International Politics. The definitive publisher-authenticated version Parmar, I. (2013) The 'knowledge politics' of democratic peace theory, International Politics, 50, 231–256 is available online at:
Publisher Keywords: knowledge politics, networks, democratic peace, democracy promotion, elites, American foundations
Subjects: J Political Science > JK Political institutions (United States)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
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