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Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: British and French Relations with the Netherlands, 1785-1815

Callister, Graeme (2013) Public Opinion and Foreign Policy: British and French Relations with the Netherlands, 1785-1815. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the interplay of public opinion, national identity and foreign policy during the period 1785-1815, focusing on three consistently interconnected countries: the Netherlands, France and Great Britain. The Netherlands provides the centrepiece to the study, which considers how the Dutch were perceived as a nation, a people and as a political entity, at both governmental and popular levels, in the three countries throughout the period. Public opinion is theorised as a two-part phenomenon. Active public opinion represents the collated thoughts and responses of a certain public to an event or set of circumstances. Latent public opinion represents the sum of generally-accepted underlying social norms, stereotypes or preconceptions; the perceptions and representations latently present in unconscious mentalités. The thesis examines how perceptions and representations of the Netherlands in all three countries fed into public opinion and, ultimately, into national identity either of the self or the ‘other’. It then investigates the extent to which the triangular policies of Britain, France and the various incarnations of the Dutch state were shaped by popular perceptions, identities and opinion. While active opinion is shown to have generally been of negligible importance to the policy-making process, it is argued that the underlying themes of latent opinion often provided the conceptual background that politicians from all three countries used to make policy. The influence of latent opinion was often as much unconscious as deliberate. Latent opinion was rarely the inspiration for foreign policy, but it frequently provided the boundaries of expectation within which policy was formed.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Public Opinion; Foreign Policy; France; Britain; Netherlands; French Revolution; Napoleon; Eighteenth Century; National Identity;
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.595154
Depositing User: Graeme Callister
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2014 16:05
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5304

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