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Identity and public attitudes to foreign aid: a framework for bottom-up policy reform

Gandy, Kizzy Marie Prem

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How can we close the gap between the policy commitments governments make at the international level and policy implementation at the domestic level in order to address global problems such as poverty and climate change? I integrate the constructivist perspective in international relations and self-categorization theory in social psychology to propose an identitybased approach to bottom-up policy reform. Identities are context-dependent categorisations of ‘self’ and ‘other’ which help actors...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorGandy, Kizzy Marie Prem
dc.date.accessioned2013-08-12T01:01:04Z
dc.date.available2013-08-12T01:01:04Z
dc.identifier.otherb30870872
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/10296
dc.description.abstractHow can we close the gap between the policy commitments governments make at the international level and policy implementation at the domestic level in order to address global problems such as poverty and climate change? I integrate the constructivist perspective in international relations and self-categorization theory in social psychology to propose an identitybased approach to bottom-up policy reform. Identities are context-dependent categorisations of ‘self’ and ‘other’ which help actors navigate reality. I argue that policy outputs are determined by the state’s identity whereas each citizen’s policy preferences are determined by the multiple identities which comprise their self-concept. State identities constitute cultural norms and the state’s international image relative to other states. Citizen identities constitute personal value priorities (personal identities) and group memberships (social identities). Citizens contribute to the state identity but a state’s identity is bigger than the sum of its parts. Therefore, the aggregate preferences of individual citizens may not necessarily correspond to policy outputs. This is not undemocratic because people do not engage in policy issues unless doing so is stereotypical of their current context-dependent identity. In addition, people modify their interpretation of identity stereotypes so that their behaviours are not wildly contradictory across situations. Identities that are maintained by few people lack popular legitimacy so they become behaviourally aligned with identities that are important to the majority. This means that the state’s identity has a top-down influence on public opinion, making it difficult for radical change to catch on. However, reframing an issue can reconfigure identity stereotypes, enabling the established order to be challenged. To test my model I focus on the commitment by developed countries to increase foreign aid. I use cross-national policy and survey data for 13 major aid donor states. I find that: (1) state identities are pro- or anti-aid in line with the justice norms that underpin their domestic welfare policies; (2) personal and social identities that are other-focused are stereotypically pro-aid and those that are self-focused are stereotypically anti-aid; (3) the degree to which people’s personal identities are pro-aid depends on the pro-aid orientation of their social identities, and the degree to which their social identities are pro-aid depends on the pro-aid orientation of the state identity; and (4) policy discourses shape identity stereotypes.I offer four prescriptions for enhancing global governance to reduce poverty in developing countries. First, states legitimately pursue differentiated policy orientations to maintain their identities. Therefore, replacing uniform policy targets with unique performance criteria could facilitate positive synergies between states as they will be motivated to scale-up identitycongruent policies. Second, reminding citizens about their personal and social identities that are stereotypically pro-aid could activate the dormant aid constituency. Third, direct lobbying to change a state’s anti-aid policy orientation could facilitate bottom-up momentum through a realignment of legitimate citizen behaviour. Finally, discursively linking foreign aid to helping others rather than serving the national interest could expand the size of the aid constituency because supporting aid will become stereotypical of inherently other-focused identities.
dc.language.isoen_AU
dc.subjectidentity
dc.subjectpublic opinion
dc.subjectforeign aid
dc.subjectconstructivism
dc.subjectself-categorization theory
dc.subjectinternational relations
dc.subjectbottom-up
dc.subjectpolicy reform
dc.subjectmobilisation
dc.subjectpolitical psychology
dc.subjectcultural norms
dc.subjectcross-national
dc.subjectglobal governance
dc.subjectworld values survey
dc.titleIdentity and public attitudes to foreign aid: a framework for bottom-up policy reform
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorMcAllister, Ian
local.contributor.supervisorcontactian.mcallister@anu.edu.au
dcterms.valid2012
local.description.notesSupervisor: Ian McAllister, Supervisor's Email Address: ian.mcallister@anu.edu.au
local.description.refereedYes
local.type.degreeDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
dc.date.issued2012
local.contributor.affiliationCollege of Medicine, Biology & Environment
local.identifier.doi10.25911/5d78d6bc480e2
local.mintdoimint
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