Neoclassical Realism and the Contemporary Foreign Policy of Iran

Morten Knøster

Student thesis: Master thesis


The project seeks to examine the Islamic Republic of Iran’s foreign policy based on the hypothesis that four domestic factors of respectively leader images, strategic culture, state-society relations and domestic institutions bear a significant impact on the foreign policy conducted. The idea that structured the project and its hypothesis derives from the author’s personal experiences from working at the Royal Danish Embassy in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The project’s theorical framework consists of Norrin M. Ripsman, Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, and Steven E. Lobell’s edition of neoclassical realism, Thomas Hobbes’ social contract theory and Graham T. Allison’s theory of bureaucratic interests. The methodological approach of deductive-theorizing is inspired by recommendations from scholars within neoclassical realism. The assessment methodology applied in the project is inspired by the Danish Defence Intelligence Service.

It finds that the four domestic factors each create the foundation for different parts of the foreign policy of Iran. The internal dynamics in the Islamic Republic necessitates the state to shift the foreign policy direction correspondingly to the individual domestic pressure that the factors which consequently cause Iran’s foreign policy to seem inconsistent and two-sided.

EducationsGlobal Studies, (Bachelor/Graduate Programme) Graduate
Publication date1 Apr 2019
Number of pages80
SupervisorsGorm Rye Olsen