Jana Tůmová

Continuity and Change: American Foreign Policy in the Era of Donald Trump through the Lens of Role Theory

(Kontinuita a změna: Americká zahraniční politika za Donalda Trumpa optikou teorie rolí)

Politické vedy, Volume 24, Number 2/2021, pages 125-146



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Tůmová. J. 2021.Continuity and Change: American Foreign Policy in the Era of Donald Trump through the Lens of Role Theory. In Politické Vedy. [online]. Vol. 24, No. 2, 2021. ISSN 1335 – 2741, pp. 125-146. Available at: DOI:


Since Donald Trump’s inauguration in the office, there have appeared many articles dealing with changes and shifts in the American foreign policy (see, for example Ikenberry 2018; Drezner 2019 or Jervis et al. 2018). There have been ongoing discussions, whether and to what degree the rhetoric of Donald Trump really corresponded with his political actions and whether and to what degree the American foreign policy had really changed. This article tried to contribute to this debate by applying the role theory approach to determine the changes and continuity in the American foreign policy. Using the Holsti’s (1970) and Le Prestre’s (1997) approach to role theory, it examined the changes in the American national role conceptions. The article aimed at detecting key categories of national role conceptions under Harry Truman´s and Donald Trump´s administration. The obtained results from these two eras were compared and subsequently evaluated through statistical analysis. The results show that despite some minor changes, national role conceptions which define and stabilize the political actions of the USA in the international system, were similar both in Harry Truman and Donald Trump era. These findings may support the assertions of the authors who argue that the American foreign policy shows some distinct similar traits in the long run. Further research may be aimed at detailed discourse analysis of national roles, which may provide more detailed insight in the development of the respective national roles.

Key words: USA; Donald Trump; Harry Truman; role theory; national role conceptions; quantitative content analysis

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