Political shocks in foreign policy and international politics: an alternative approach

Kelly M. Gordell, Thomas J. Volgy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Political shocks are used extensively in research on foreign policy and international politics yet the analysis of political shocks, as its own topic of study, remains underdeveloped, and especially so when compared to analyses of other key concepts in the field. What we do know about shocks primarily comes from work where the focus is typically on other phenomena driving the inquiry. In this effort we reconceptualize what is meant by political shocks, focusing on actual versus potential shocks, create a methodology for identifying actual political shocks, based on a punctuated equilibrium approach to foreign policy change, illustrate its utility with application to human rights violations by countries, and suggest at the conclusion a theoretical framework that may help to spur a more comprehensive approach to explaining political shocks effects for both interstate and intrastate politics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-126
Number of pages18
JournalCanadian Foreign Policy Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Political shocks
  • foreign policy
  • human rights
  • interstate conflict

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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