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International Identity in Theory and Practice: The Case of the Modern American Presidency

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Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the concept of national identity. In a globalizing world, however, identity is increasingly shaped not only by one's own nation but also by foreign nations. With this in mind, this study theorizes international identity as a communicative process. We propose four features of international identity—that it is distinct, relational, contextual, and stratified—and examine these features in one crucial context: the modern American presidency. Our content analysis of every mention of a foreign entity in 74 years worth of presidential discourse—2480 mentions in all—supports our conception of international identity and begins to identify the parameters of this construct in American political communication.

Keywords: International Identity; National Identity; Presidential Discourse; Social Identity

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2011


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