Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

English language version (Original in Chinese)

Murray, S. (2013). The renaissance of diplomatic theory. International Politics Quarterly/ Guoji Zhengzhi Yanjiu, 4(33), 23-39

Access the journal

© Copyright International Politics Quarterly, 2013




When traditional diplomacy was institutionalised in the seventeenth century diplomatic theory and theorists were invaluable in overcoming a period of confusion as to what diplomacy was or ought to be. Similarly, the modern diplomatic environment with its mixture of state, non-state and rogue diplomatic actors is equally puzzling.

Charting the historical and modern relationship between diplomatic theory and diplomatic practice, this article argues that such confusion is a sign of a theoretical and practical renaissance in diplomacy. In order to make sense of and potentialise modern diplomacy (what it is now and what it ought to be) this paper argues that diplomatic studies needs to move beyond its culture of theoretical resistance and embrace both the idea of grand and abstract theorizing and the many benefits that would follow. To that end, three schools of diplomatic thought are evidenced, reified and presented in this article.

This proposed taxonomy should prove useful as it offers a neat synopsis of many diverse views on what constitutes modern diplomacy today. Not only does this exercise categorize and allude to the remarkable collection post-Cold War writing and thinking on diplomacy, it demonstrates that the surface of our modern theoretical understanding of the ‘business of peace’ is only just beginning.



This document has been peer reviewed.


To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.