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Diplomatie der Generationen?: Kollektivbiographische Perspektiven auf die Internationalen Beziehungen 1871–1914

Neitzel, Sönke (2013) Diplomatie der Generationen?: Kollektivbiographische Perspektiven auf die Internationalen Beziehungen 1871–1914. Historische Zeitschrift, 296 (1). pp. 84-113. ISSN 0018-2613

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Identification Number: 10.1524/hzhz.2013.0004


Nineteenth-century diplomats are often described as backward-looking traditionalists, rooted in the traditions of the ancien regime, their residencies grand houses like islands in a changing world. This essay examines this assessment in the light of new primary sources. It also tests the usefulness of generational theory when applied to late nineteenth-century diplomats. The author considers whether diplomats participated in the discourse of their contemporaries and whether „diplomacy of the generations“ existed. An analysis of the lives of selected diplomats indicates that their world view was similar to that of other elites. Generation-specific perceptions of foreign policy did exist but were the exception rather than the rule between 1871 and 1914. Examples of foreign policy shaped by generational perception do not fit the model of political generations suggested by Karl Mannheim. Patterns of perception that span generations are more common. Generational theory therefore has limited value for explaining pre-war international relations. Cohort analysis is much more useful in explaining the long-term genesis of collective assumptions. One such example is the steadily increasing conviction within German diplomacy that war would be the only way out of a political dead end.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2013 Oldenbourg Verlag
Divisions: International History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2013 16:35
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2024 17:30

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