Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Making sense of a changing world: foreign policy ideas and Italy’s national role conceptions after 9/11

  • Anna Caffarena (a1) and Giuseppe Gabusi (a1)

In a rapidly changing world, middle powers with no obvious role to play on the global stage have the difficult task to read the international environment in order to formulate and implement a coherent and possibly effective foreign policy. In order to do so, decision makers either reproduce old ideas or develop new ones. Considering the ideas put forward in their inaugural speeches by Prime Ministers and Foreign Affairs Ministers in office after 2001, we suggest that Italy’s institutional actors appear to be aware of the changes occurred in the international system after 1989, and in particular after 9/11. The national role conceptions sustaining Italy’s present foreign policy goals reflect such awareness, being quite different with respect to the picture offered by Holsti in his seminal work published in 1970. Ideas expressing foreign policy goals are also reasonably well grounded in ideas on how the world works or linked to operational ideas, yet the country’s foreign policy appears feebly focused, even though focus is explicitly very much sought for. Some explanations for such a lack of focus which makes Italy’s foreign policy design rather ineffective are offered.

Corresponding author
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

E Brighi . (2007), ‘Europe, the USA and the “policy of the pendulum”: the importance of foreign policy paradigms in the foreign policy of Italy (1989-2005)’, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online 9(2): 99115.

A.F Cooper . (1997), ‘Niche diplomacy: a conceptual overview’, in A.F. Cooper (ed.), Niche Diplomacy: Middle Powers After the Cold War, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 124.

O Croci . (2007), ‘Italian foreign policy after the end of the cold war: the issue of continuity and change in Italian-US relations’, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online 9(2): 117131.

O Croci . (2008), ‘The second Prodi government and Italian foreign policy: new and improved or the same wrapped up differently?’, Modern Italy 13(3): 291303.

A.K Henrikson . (1997), ‘Middle powers as managers: international mediation within, across, and outside institutions’, in A.F. Cooper (eds) Niche Diplomacy: Middle Powers After the Cold War, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 4672.

K.J Holsti . (1970), ‘National role conceptions in the study of foreign policy’, International Studies Quarterly 14(3): 233309.

L Quaglia . (2007), ‘The role of Italy in the European Union: between continuity and change’, Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans Online 9(2): 133148.

J Ravenhill . (1998), ‘Cycles of middle power activism: constraint and choice in Australian and Canadian foreign policies’, Australian Journal of International Affairs 52(3): 309327.

J.A Rosati . (2000), ‘The power of human cognition in the study of world politics’, International Studies Review 2(3): 4575.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Italian Political Science Review / Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica
  • ISSN: 0048-8402
  • EISSN: 2057-4908
  • URL: /core/journals/italian-political-science-review-rivista-italiana-di-scienza-politica
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Type Description Title
Supplementary Materials

Caffarena and Gabusi supplementary material
Caffarena and Gabusi supplementary material 1

 Word (14 KB)
14 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 8
Total number of PDF views: 78 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 267 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 5th July 2017 - 24th September 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.