Shaming States: Social Sanction and State Behaviour in World Politics


Are state national security bureaucracies receptive to naming and shaming strategies? Under what conditions do they experience group-based shame as a result of their association with the country they represent?

This project develops a theory of the micro-foundations of group-based shame for U.S. and Israeli foreign policy elites. It draws from in-depth semi-structured elite interviews with acting and retired U.S. and Israeli national security officials and from original survey experiments with national security bureaucracies in these two countries. It advances an innovative theoretical framework to understand and test the influence of group-based shame on state foreign policy elites.

The study relies on an original adaptation of the shame experience interview scale to elite interviewing in International Relations and measures group-based shame using natural language processing (NLP) approaches, focusing on compliance with international norms (e.g. the Convention against Torture), great power responsibility, multilateral engagements, and perceptions of declining international status and standing in world politics.


The project was carried out at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, at Duke University, and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.


  • Professor Matteo Legrenzi
  • Professor Judith Kelley
  • Professor Eran Halperin