Modern Diplomatic Service as a Reflexive Institution

Litvak N.V.,

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University), MFA of Russia.,

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2018.02.12
ID of the Article: 5385

For citation:

Litvak N.V. Modern Diplomatic Service as a Reflexive Institution. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No 2. P. 163-172 (In Russ.) . DOI:

   Buy a digital version in Polismag


The article provides a substantiation of diplomatic service as a reflective institution. Since the mid-1980s, the attention of researchers has increasingly concentrated on such new features of modern society as institutional and individual reflexivity, which permits to speak about the formation of reflexive modernity that has replaced the industrial modernity. This new state of society is characterized by accelerating and increasing of social and cultural dynamics, which qualitatively change the functionality of structures and people’s activities. Accordingly, a reflexive sociology emerged with a new theoretical and methodological means that entailed ‘rediscovery’ of the realities of the information society, the nature of communications, international relations, and diplomatic service. The modern (in the context of the information society, electronic media and communication, networked in its organization, ‘liquid’ stage) diplomatic service is turning into a reflexive socio-political institution. The activity of the diplomatic service is reflexive information and communication process carried out by the system of specialized bodies (ministry of foreign affairs and its overseas missions) for the implementation of foreign-policy tasks set by top political leadership of the country, on the basis of general public interest, by specific diplomatic means. Diplomats also acquire a reflexive nature. Being initially individuals who receive strict instructions from central office, they turn into diplomatic agents, whose essence of activity is now primarily the reflection of different cultures and interests, the search and harmonization of joint, compromised, mutually acceptable positions and actions. In addition to reflecting the environment, in which the modern diplomatic service operates, the self-reflection of the diplomatic community, the self-change of its specific socio-professional characteristics, have great importance for the effectiveness of its activities. The author observes the most distinctly institutionalized reflections focusing at the case of the diplomatic service of France, which is the precursor of and, in many respects, still stays the model for the diplomatic services of other states.

diplomatic service; reflexive institution; reflection; self-reflection; diplomatic agents; Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France.

   Buy a digital version in Polismag

Argyros G.L., Grossman M., Rohatyn F.G. The Embassy of the Future. Washington: The CSIS press. 2007. 76 р.

Bauman Z. Liquid Times. Living in an Age of Uncertainty. Cambridge: Polity Press. 2007. 115 р.

Beck U. Cosmopolitan Version. Cambridge: Polity Press. 2007. 201 р.

Bourdieu P. The Forms of Capital. – Handbook of Theory and Research for the Sociology of Education. Ed. by J. Richardson. New York: Greenwood. 1986. P. 241-259.

Bourdieu P. Structures, Habitus, Practices. (Russ. ed.: Bourdieu P. Struktury, habitus, praktiki. – Sovremennaya sotsial’naya teoriya: Bourdieu, Giddens, Habermas. Novosibirsk: Izdatel’stvo Novosibirskogo universiteta. 1995. 120 p.)

Bourdieu P., Wacquant L.J.D. An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1992. 332 р.

Castells M. Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Vol. I-III. Oxford: Blackwell. 1996-1998.

Charmelot J. Le ‘smart power’ américain, un défi pour l’Europe. – Questions d’Europe. 2009. No. 127. 9 février. URL: (accessed: 16.10.2014).

Chenu G.-M. Balkans (1991-1995): une amère experience. – Les diplomates. Négocier dans un monde chaotique (ed. by Cohen S.). Paris: Autrement. 2002. P.128-139.

Cohen S. Les diplomates. Négocier dans un monde chaotique. Paris.: Autrement. 2002. 182 р.

Crozier M. Le phénomène bureaucratique. Paris: Seuil. 1963. 416 р.

Crozier M. Le Monde des employés de bureau. Paris: Seuil. 1965. 238 р.

Crozier M., Friedberg E. L’acteur et le système. Paris: Seuil. 1977. 445 p.

Delcorde R. L’evolution du metier de diplomate. – Annuaire Français de Relations Internationales. 2009.
Vol. X. URL: (accessed: 25.09.2015).

Durkheim E. De la division du travail social. Les Règles de la méthode sociologique. (Russ. ed.: Durkheim E. O razdelenii obshchestvennogo truda. Metod sotsiologii. Moscow: Nauka. 1991. 575 p.).

Giddens A. The Constitution of Society. Outline of the Theory of Structuration. (Russ. ed.: Giddens A. Ustroenie obshhestva: Ocherk teorii strukturacii. M.: Akademicheskij Proekt. 2003. 528 p.).

Graeff Ch. Tripoli-Beyrouth (1982-1987): l’ambassadeur dans la crise. – Les diplomates. Négocier dans un monde chaotique. Ed. by S. Cohen. Paris: Autrement. 2002. P.112-127.

Kravchenko S.A. Dynamics of Modern Social Realities: innovative Approaches. – Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya. 2010. No. 10. P. 14-25. (In Russ.)

La France et l’Europe dans le monde. Livre blanc sur la politique étrangère et européenne de la France 2008-2020. Paris: La Documentation française. 2008. 224 р.

Litvak N.V. Philosophy as a general discipline in the field of conflict. The experience of France and Russia. – Konfliktologiya. 2013. No. 4. P. 7-21. (In Russ.)

Litvak N.V. The Trade Union Movement in the Modern Diplomatic Service of France. – Mezhdunarodnaya zhizn’. 2017. No. 7. P. 82-100. (In Russ.)

Neumann I. B. To Be a Diplomat. – International Studies Perspectives. 2005. Vol. 6. No. 1. February. Р. 72-93.

Piotet F., Loriol M., Delfolie D. Splendeurs et misères du travail des diplomates. Paris: Hermann. 2013. 468 р.

Sztompka P. Socjologia analiza społeczeństwa. (Russ. ed.: Shtompka P. Sociologija. Analiz sovremennogo obshhestva. Moscow: Logos. 2008. 655 p.).

Urry J. What is Future? Cambridge: Polity Press. 2016. 200 р.

Vaïsse J. Etats-Unis: le temps de la diplomatie transformationnelle. – Cahiers du Chaillot. 2006. No. 95. Décembre. 120 р.

Verluise P. Quelle France dans le monde au XXI e siècle? 2000. URL: (accessed: 12.12.2012).

Content No 2, 2018

See also:

Litvak N.V.,
To the methodology of diplomatic correspondence: analysis of K.N. Leontyev’s notes and reports. – Polis. Political Studies. 2014. No4

Afanasyev M.N.,
The Ruler's Court or Civil Service? (The Russian Officialdom at a Crossroads). – Polis. Political Studies. 1995. No6

Romanova M.D.,
Influence of Cultural Context on Formation of Science Policy (French Experience). – Polis. Political Studies. 2015. No5

Favrе P.,
Political Science in France. – Polis. Political Studies. 1996. No6

Kerimov A.D.,
Special Commissions in the National Assembly of France .. – Polis. Political Studies. 1992. No1



Introducing an article

Polis. Political Studies
No 1 2006

Zaznayev O.I.
Typology of Forms of Government: Rectification of Mistakes

  The article text


   2018      2017      2016   
   2015      2014      2013      2012      2011   
   2010      2009      2008      2007      2006   
   2005      2004      2003      2002      2001   
   2000      1999      1998      1997      1996   
   1995      1994      1993      1992      1991