Why comply? Social learning and European identity change

TitleWhy comply? Social learning and European identity change
Publication TypeJournal Article
AuthorsCheckel, JT
Contribution: 

Why do agents comply with the norms embedded in regimes and international institutions? I examine the role of argumentative persuasion and social learning. I make explicit the theory of social choice and interaction implicit in many constructivist studies of compliance, and I enlage on rationalist theories by exploring the instrumental and noninstrumental processes through which actors comply. I argue that domestic politics - in particular, institutional and historical contexts - delimit the causal role of persuasion/social learning. Equally important, instrumental choices and social learning, an approach that will help both rationalists and constructivists to refine the scope of their compliance claims.

Analysis proceeds as follows: I begin by describing the citizenship/membership norms of concern here. Switching to a more analytic mode, I review rational choice and constructivist work on norm compliance, focusing on the causal mechanisms each adduces. Rationalist regime and bargaining theorists and, more surprisingly, constructivists have largely ignored the influence of social interaction on compliance decisions. I address this gap by advancing hypotheses on the roles of social learning and persuasion in compliance and by exploring the methodological challenges involved in measuring them. I then provide evidence of both rationalist and constructivist compliance mechanisms at work in two different institutional settings: Germany (norm compliance in a well-established pluralist democracy) and Ukraine (norm compliance in a new transition state). I conclude by suggesting how many analysis advances the constructivist agenda, highlights the importance of institutional factors in compliance studies, and argues for greater attention to scope conditions in the debate between rationalists and social constructivists.

5 hypotheses about conditions under which agents should be especially open to argumentative persuasion and thus to compliance explained by preference change:

1. argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persaudee is in a novel and uncertain environment - generated by the newness of the issue, a crisis, or serious policy failure - and thus cognitively motivated to analyze new information.

2. argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuadee has few prior, ingrained beliefs that are inconsistent with the persauder's message. Novice agents with few cognitive priorts will be relatively open to persuasion.

3. argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader is an authoritative member of the in-group to which the persuadee belongs or wants to belong.

4. argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader does not lecture or demand but, instead, "actors out principles of serious deliberative argument"

5. argumentative persuasion is more likely to be effective when the persuader-persuadee interaction occurs in less politicized and more insulated, private settings.

The german case highlights the importance of institutional variables in explaining compliance mechanisms; it also highlgihts the role instrumental choice mechanisms play in the social sanctioning dynamic so often emphasized by constructivists. Social sanctioning has playing a minor role in promoting norm-driven change in Ukraine. More a function of persuasion and learning.