Oh My God, They Killed the International Order: Popular Culture and International Relations

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Kaufman, Ben
article description
Mainstream international relations scholars often ignore the importance of actors other than the state. However, the rise of non-state actors and increased civil conflicts in the post-Soviet era begs the question if states have begun to lose some relevance in the formation of state foreign policy. This paper seeks to demonstrate the links between popular culture and international relations, specifically using the television show South Park as a case study. It describes how popular culture not only reflects the foreign policy discourse in the United States by incorporating and propagating cultural norms; however, the paper also underlines the importance of popular culture in the formation of new discourse and norms, in a sort of ?democracy of popular culture.? Next, the paper critiques the current scholarship focusing on the school of neo-realism within international relations. It then delves into the case study of South Park; in particular, it discusses the recent depiction of Mohammed debate, aesthetic depictions of American diplomacy, and concludes by evaluating popular culture?s effect on political decisions.