Sociability in International Politics: Golf and ASEAN's Cold War Diplomacy

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    Abstract

    Sociability or “the play form of association” appears in a range of interactions in world politics sited at banquets, drinking gatherings, golf courses, and even the sauna. Notwithstanding this salience, the form and effects of sociability are poorly understood in International Relations. This article fills this gap. It conceptualizes sociability—its distinct sociological structure; its variations along class, race, and gender; its effects on social interaction—and argues that sociability matters in world politics. Specifically, sociability contributes to identity formation and community maintenance, enables learning, produces social capital, and generates a “backstage” where actors can manage disagreement. I substantiate this argument by examining the sociability fostered from playing golf in the diplomacy of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). I explain why golf emerged as a sociable practice in capitalist ASEAN’s diplomacy in contrast to socialist and nonaligned circuits of Cold War Southeast Asia; examine the elite and male-homosocial character of this sociability; suggest how it influenced the Associations’ diplomacy; and outline the structural shifts that have led to its post–Cold War decline. This article contributes to the study of sociability in world politics, international practice theory, the political sociology of leisure, and the international politics of Southeast Asia.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)196-214
    JournalInternational Political Sociology
    Volume14
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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