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Security communities and the habitus of restraint: Germany and the United States on Iraq


Borrowing from Norbert Elias, we introduce the habitus of restraint to the study of security communities. This habitus constitutes a key dimension of the glue that holds security communities together. The perceived compatibility of practices emanating from the habitus that members hold fosters the collective identity upon which a security community is built. The violation of a member’s habitus by the practices of another member, however, disrupts the reproduction of collective identity and triggers a crisis of the security community. Our analysis of Germany’s reaction to Washington’s case for war against Iraq provides empirical evidence for the salience of the habitus for the internal dynamics of security communities.

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* The authors would like to thank Emanuel Adler, Ted Hopf, Nancy Kokaz, Homeira Moshir-Zadeh, Daniel Nexon, Vincent Pouliot, Nisha Shah, Ruben Zaiotti and two anonymous reviewers for thought-provoking discussions and helpful suggestions on many aspects of the argument presented in this article.

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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