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‘Acting under Chapter 7’: rhetorical entrapment, rhetorical hollowing, and the authorization of force in the UN Security Council, 1995–2017


Scherzinger, Johannes (2023). ‘Acting under Chapter 7’: rhetorical entrapment, rhetorical hollowing, and the authorization of force in the UN Security Council, 1995–2017. International Relations, 37(1):3-24.

Abstract

After more than 25 years of scholarship, the deliberative turn in international relations (IR) theory is ready to be revisited with a fresh perspective. Using new methods from automated text analyses, this explorative article investigates how rhetoric may bind action. It does so by building upon Schimmelfennig’s original account of rhetorical entrapment. To begin, I theorize the opposite of entrapment, which I call rhetorical hollowing. Rhetorical hollowing describes a situation in which actors use normative rhetoric, but instead of advancing their interests, such rhetoric fails to increase their chances of obtaining the desired outcome because the normative force of their rhetoric has eroded over time. To provide plausibility to both entrapment and hollowing, I present two mechanisms by which language is connected with action in the United Nations Security Council. Finally, I run a series of time-series-cross-section models on selected dictionary terms conducive to entrapment or hollowing on all speeches and an original Security Council resolution corpus from 1995 to 2017. The research shows that while mentioning ‘human rights’ is consistently associated with increased odds of authorization of force; the word ‘terrorism’ is associated with a decrease of odds for intervention. This finding suggests that some terms may not only entrap or hollow but also normatively backfire.

Abstract

After more than 25 years of scholarship, the deliberative turn in international relations (IR) theory is ready to be revisited with a fresh perspective. Using new methods from automated text analyses, this explorative article investigates how rhetoric may bind action. It does so by building upon Schimmelfennig’s original account of rhetorical entrapment. To begin, I theorize the opposite of entrapment, which I call rhetorical hollowing. Rhetorical hollowing describes a situation in which actors use normative rhetoric, but instead of advancing their interests, such rhetoric fails to increase their chances of obtaining the desired outcome because the normative force of their rhetoric has eroded over time. To provide plausibility to both entrapment and hollowing, I present two mechanisms by which language is connected with action in the United Nations Security Council. Finally, I run a series of time-series-cross-section models on selected dictionary terms conducive to entrapment or hollowing on all speeches and an original Security Council resolution corpus from 1995 to 2017. The research shows that while mentioning ‘human rights’ is consistently associated with increased odds of authorization of force; the word ‘terrorism’ is associated with a decrease of odds for intervention. This finding suggests that some terms may not only entrap or hollow but also normatively backfire.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations
Language:English
Date:1 March 2023
Deposited On:18 Aug 2023 09:49
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:32
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0047-1178
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/00471178221082870
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)