Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

First Advisor

Paul R. Viotti, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Timothy Sisk

Third Advisor

Christoph Stefes


European politics, Foreign policy analysis, German foreign policy, International relations


This dissertation engages the question of why German political elites accepted the use of force during the 1990s and started to commit the country's armed forces to multilateral peacekeeping missions. Previous governments of the Federal Republic had opposed foreign deployment of the military and Germany was characterized by a unique strategic culture in which the efficacy of military force was widely regarded as negative. The rediscovery of the use of force constituted a significant reorientation of German security policy with potentially profound implications for international relations.

I use social role theory to explain Germany's security policy reorientation. I argue that political elites shared a national role conception of their country as a dependable and reliable ally. Role expectations of the international security environment changed as a result of a general shift to multilateral intervention as means to address emerging security problems after the Cold War. Germany's resistance to the use of force was viewed as inappropriate conduct for a power possessing the economic and military wherewithal of the Federal Republic. Elites from allied countries exerted social pressure to have Germany contribute commensurate with capabilities. German political elites adapted role behavior in response to external expectations in an effort to preserve the national role conception of a dependable and reliable ally.

Security policy reorientation to maintain Germany's national role conception was pursued by conservative elites who acted as 'role entrepreneurs'. CDU/CSU politicians initiated a process of role adaptation to include the use of force for non-defensive missions. They persuaded Social Democrats and Alliance 90/Green party politicians that the maintenance of the country's role conception necessitated a reorientation in security policy to accommodate the changes in the security environment.

The dissertation uses structured, focused and comparative case study methodology to trace the process of role adaptation in the understandings of German parliamentary elites. It finds that German policy orientation was a product of external expectations which increased in their socializing impact as intervention norms became more concrete and ethnopolitical violence increased in intensity. As a constructivist account of the normalization of German foreign policy, the dissertation finds that social, rather than utilitarian considerations were primarily responsible for initiating the reorientation of German security policy. The finding that social expectations caused a reorientation in the security policy of a great power strengthens social constructivist claims about the impact of norms in international relations. The dissertation also contributes to knowledge on processes of domestic norm promotion and national compliance.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Thorsten Spehn


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

341 p.


Political Science, International Relations, International Law