Exercising Status Recognition Sensibility: The Empathic De-escalation of the Sino-Indian 1998 Status Dilemma

In her article published by International Relations Journal, Dr Chiara Cervasio, Policy Fellow and Programme Manager of the Nuclear Responsibilities Programme, argues the exercise of what she calls status recognition sensibility is critical to explaining whether dangerous competitions for status can be mitigated in world politics. The article illustrates the case study of the de-escalation of China-India competition in the aftermath of India’s 1998 nuclear tests, Pokhran II, where each side perceived the other to be challenging its responsible great power status claims.

Abstract: uncertain processes of status recognition might generate status dilemmas in world politics. While existing accounts are limited to the fatalist assumption that status dilemmas inevitably lead to dangerous international conflicts, this paper argues that status dilemma dynamics can be mitigated if one or both sides in a dyad are able to exercise a form of empathy that she calls ‘status recognition sensibility’. This is the capacity and intention to understand that the actions of the adversary might be driven by erroneous perceptions of status misrecognition and to reassure them that their status is not under threat. The article investigates the case study of Sino-Indian competition in the aftermath of the 1998 Indian nuclear tests, where each side perceived the other to be challenging its claim to great power status. It concludes that the status recognition sensibility was key for ensuring diplomatic rapprochement and de-escalate tensions between the two countries.

Read her article here (open access):

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