Supervisors: prof Andres Kasekamp (TÜ), dr Aleksandr Astrov (Kesk-Euroopa Ülikool)
Opponent: prof Hiski Haukkala (Tampere Ülikool)
The dissertation explored how a state's foreign policy practices become so¬cially possible within the framework of the constructivist school of International Relations. The dissertation was con¬cerned with the process of a state's foreign policy decision-making and the role the state and society relationship plays in this process. In particular, it studied the state and society relationship under very crude power conditions to find out whether and how the domestic understandings influence the state's foreign policy decision-making while its physical survival is at stake. The dissertation followed and built on the societal constructivist framework developed by the constructivist scholar Ted Hopf, who argues that domestic discourses explain a state's foreign policy decisions. However, it disagreed with Hopf in how the state and society relationship is constructed and its effects on the decision-making process. It argued that at the moment of decision-making, the decision-maker does not have coherent given practices at his disposal, but needs to medi¬ate the tensions between the different discourses and the external pressures. It further argued that the decision-maker makes his decisions based on his interpretation of the domestic and the external situation; this interpretation in turn is based on how the decision-maker is socialised within the societal debates. The theoretical framework, built on Hopf's ap¬proach on the relation of domestic discourses and foreign policy decision-mak¬ing with an emphasis on the interaction between discourses and the role of the decision-maker, was applied to two cases: the foreign policy decisions of Finland and of Estonia in autumn 1939 regarding the demands of the Soviet Union. The analyses of the two cases showed that Finland and Estonia reacted dif¬ferently to the Soviet demands because their decision-makers' understanding of these demands, subject to social construction, depended on the dominant do¬mestic discourses and practices and on the construction of the state and society relationship that derived from these discourses.