Thomas Pitney | 2024 I.S. Symposium

Thomas Pitney head shot

Name: Thomas Pitney
Title: Coups d’État and Foreign Policy Change: A Multiple Streams Approach
Majors: Political Science; French & Francophone Studies
Pathway: Global Impacts

This Independent Study addresses the following research question: Under what conditions do coups d’État — or sudden and dramatic changes in government — promote the convergence of policy streams affecting a country’s foreign policy? Coups have become increasingly prevalent in recent years and while many studies have focused on how they impact citizens of the state, their effects on foreign policy making are understudied. Building on recent scholarship applying public policy theories in Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA), I employ the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) in answering this question. I attempt to extend the framework’s application by identifying a moment when three streams — political, problem, and policy — converge for foreign policy change following a coup d’État. In doing so, I hypothesize that a coup will result in a shift to the state’s foreign policy orientation if the new government builds consensus in favor of this change. To test this hypothesis, I use a most-similar systems qualitative case study comparing Dahomey’s — known as Benin since 1975 — and Algeria’s foreign policies following their coups in 1972 and 1965 respectively (Ronen 1984, 2). I analyze speeches given in the French language by each country’s president and foreign minister to understand their roles in the foreign policy making process. I also draw on French- and English- language primary and secondary sources to identify whether the states changed its foreign policy orientation after the coup d’État. I find support for the hypothesis, indicating a need for several new avenues of future research — including refining the MSF and extending its application to FPA.

Posted in Symposium 2024 on May 2, 2024.