Strategic Culture

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Author: Dr. Ali Abdollah-Khani

Active ImagePublished By: Tehran International Studies & Research Institute (TISRI)
Date of Publication: 2007
Language: Persian
ISBN: 978-964-526-068-0

The role of culture in strengthening or undermining national security and strategic behavior of the state was epitomized by collapse of the former Soviet Union. Before and during early years of the Cold War, culture was considered a factor influencing strategic behavior of states. During the Cold War, however, realism dominated all strategic debates. Therefore, cultural theories were totally marginalized by analyses of strategic behavior.

The implosion of the Soviet Union and inability of Soviets to forecast that upheaval undermined realistic theories and led to resurgence of cultural theories, so that, such theories were associated with security studies. The present book is, in fact, an effort to introduce its readers to fundaments and different functions of culture and security with special emphasis on strategic culture and influence of strategic culture on strategic behavior. Therefore, four chapters of the book will delineate cultural theories related to security, characteristics of strategic culture, its capabilities in shaping strategic behavior, and challenges facing strategic culture.

The first chapter is entitled “Study of Culture” and focuses on such issues as terminology of culture, various definitions of culture, cultural issues, relationship between culture and individual and relationship between culture and society. Therefore, descriptive, historical, normative, structural and psychological definitions of culture have been presented in addition to such cultural issues as cultural developments, moving from a single culture to multiple cultures, special sphere and independent existence of culture, culture and nature, culture and personality, believing in culture, subcultures, cultural interactivity, cultural system, culture and collective spirit, cultural model…. Then three general viewpoints on the relationship between culture and individual, that is, atomism, holism, and mutual effect have been expounded. As for the relationship between culture and society, three approaches; that is, oneness of culture and society, independence of culture from society, and mutual effects of culture and society have been delineated.

The second chapter is entitled “Culture and Security” which discusses three main issues related to culture which include constructivist studies, relationship between culture and security, and cultural studies on security from a realistic standpoint. From the viewpoint of constructivist culture, identity, norms and institutions are examples of subjective world which has been created, but does not belong to the objective world that has been already discovered. When it comes to relationship between culture and security, constructivists believe in a kind of reciprocity between national security elements and elements of institutional and cultural environment. Therefore, part of this chapter has been dedicated to explaining important components, ideas and thoughts of constructivists in this field. Critiques and challenges posed to strategic culture theorists by realist theorists have been discussed in the final part of the second chapter.

“Study of Strategic Culture” is the title of the third chapter which focuses on such issues as emergence of and changes in strategic culture, carriers of strategic culture and methods used to recognize strategic culture. Thus, special attention has been paid to reasons behind rise and fall of cultures and it has been pointed out that when people have doubts about the old culture and there are new cultures to substitute it, paradigmatic change will be inevitable though such change takes place over a long period of time and is energy-intensive. Content analysis and experimental method have been used in the final part of the chapter to understand strategic culture.

Chapter four is about study of approaches to strategic culture and discusses recognition of strategic behavior within different strategic cultures. Therefore, four major approaches, including strategic culture as a ground for strategic behavior which appeared in early 1980s; strategic culture as an excuse for strategic behavior which appeared in the middle of 1980s and considered strategic culture as a tool to promote real strategy; strategic culture as an effective factor determining strategic behavior which appeared in the middle of 1990s and considered strategic culture an independent entity whose functions covered other sectors in addition to the military; and strategic culture as a means of analyzing strategic behavior which appeared in late 1990s and considered strategic culture as a means of analyzing strategic behavior. The last part of the book contains conclusion and while explaining and criticizing main approaches to strategic culture, offers recommendations for the effectiveness of strategic culture studies.

About the Author
Ali Abdollah-Khani received his Ph.D. from National Defense University (Tehran) in Political Science. He teaches political science in the university and is the Chairman of Tehran International Studies & Research Institute (TISRI).

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