Four Approaches to Foreign Policy Analysis: The Case of Existing Administration



The aim of this article is to study changes in the Iran’s foreign policy during the administration of Hassan Rouhani. The paper uses four ontological and epistemological approaches in analysis of foreign policy which constitutes explanatory individualism, interpretive individualism, explanatory collectivism and interpretive collectivism. The major question of the present research is: how changes in the foreign policy of the eleventh government can be explained by using each of the four analytical approaches. In response, the author hypothesizes that in order to reach a complete understanding of changes in Iran’s foreign policy during President Rouhani’s administration, a simultaneous attention to all the four analytical approaches is required; the present article considers these approaches as the “contextual level of analysis”. Exploring the four levels of foreign policy analysis, the author concludes that to have a complete understanding of an actor’s foreign policy in the international system, the contextual level of analysis should be used as it combines different levels in its approach. This level of analysis includes material and ideational dimensions in both minor and major levels, all at the same time.