Theorizing state stigmatization: A comparative perspective on South Africa and Israel

Michal Hatuel-Radoshitzky, Amal Jamal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article deals with state stigmas in the international arena, and addresses the question: why do state-stigmas develop and become sustained in some cases, whereas in other cases they wither away? For parsimonious, analytical purposes we view the process of state stigmatisation through two, interrelated stages: the stigma’s development – where transnational civil society activists and the engagement of mainstream international media play an important role; and the stigma’s sustenance where these elements are joined by the target state’s coping strategy. For theoretical consistency, we limit ourselves to exploring states that are (a) involved in conflicts and (b) aspiring to be part of the Western-led ‘club’ of states. Through the analysis of press articles and UN documents relating to two vastly different case studies: South Africa (1985–1994) and Israel (2000–2019), we demonstrate that states in conflictual situations have limited manoeuvring space in dealing with their developing stigmas; and that the choice of tools utilized in the implementation of the same coping strategy can lead to different results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-236
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • civil society
  • English school
  • Israel
  • soft power
  • South Africa
  • state stigma


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