Social Identity in War

Kenneth Payne

in The Psychology of Strategy

Published in print May 2015 | ISBN: 9780190227234
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780190492120 | DOI:
Social Identity in War

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The social identity of policymakers provides one of the key motivations for strategy. In particular, strategists are motivated to improve their standing within their referent group, and to enhance the standing of that group relative to others. This chapter draws on Henri Tajfel’s Social Identity Theory to explore the social forces at work in policymaking, including the emotional attachment to the group. These are illustrated in the case of Vietnam via a discussion of the dynamic and complex identities embroiled in the conflict; and the failure of US policymakers to appreciate the forces at work both domestically and in Vietnam itself.

Keywords: social identity; Vietnam; emotion; Tajfel; confirmation bias; Social Identity Theory; policymakers; strategy

Chapter.  14102 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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