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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Communications and political behavior in the international system; explorations into theory, method, and substance McMaster, Barrie Glenholme


This study deals with possible relationships between the political information levels of nation states and their behavior in the international political system. The purpose of the study is purely exploratory. Drawing upon the literature of domestic political participation studies and the systems framework of David Easton, the author investigates the relevance and implications of the hypothesis, the availability and reliability of data sources, and the substantive relationship between information and behavior. The author suggests that a basic modification of the Easton model— the addition of a membership environment— makes the framework applicable to the analysis of international politics, and shows political information to be a salient variable, previously over looked in systemic analyses of international relations. Attention is devoted to the utility of news index and news summary sources for behavioral data. Using correlational techniques, the investigator finds that the advantages of availability and economy of these sources are somewhat offset by the existence of biases; no conclusions can be drawn, the author suggests, until a more systematic assessment of these sources is undertaken. Using a randomization test for matched pairs of twenty nation states, the study indicates a probable relationship between the extent of information channels and the systemic orientation of states' international behavior. The information channels utilized in the research design are diplomatic exchanges and memberships in inter-governmental organizations. The substantive findings are then related to the behavioral data source question, and to the further research ability of the problem. The author concludes that the results of the pilot study are sufficiently interesting to warrant fuller investigation of both the hypothesis and the source bias problem.

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