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During the past decade, a growing number of scholars have turned to cultural approaches to account for the foreign and security policies of states. Surprisingly, however, these scholars have devoted little attention to the concept that boasts the most venerable tradition in the field of political science, that of political culture, as a possible source of state behavior. This neglect is unjustified. Like other cultural variables, political culture promises to explain phenomena that are enigmatic from the perspective of leading noncultural theories, such as neorealism. Yet it applies to a broader range of cases than do the many alternative cultural concepts, such as strategic culture and organizational culture, that have been employed. I begin by describing an important puzzle in the international relations literature that suggests the need to consider culture as a variable: the failure of neorealism to predict German security policy after unification. I then assess the various cultural approaches used in recent years to explain state behavior. After noting the similarities in these approaches, I discuss the important differences that mark them and identify the reasons for the greater utility of political culture. Finally, I illustrate the explanatory power of the political culture approach by applying it to the case of German security policy since 1990.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Cambridge University Press in:

Duffield, John S. “Political Culture and State Behavior: Why Germany Confounds Neorealism,”International Organization 53, no. 4 (Autumn 1999): 765-803.