Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Political Science

Content Description

1 online resource (ii, 217 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

David L. Rousseau

Committee Members

David L. Rousseau, Rey Koslowski, Cheng Chen, Johannes Karreth


China, Constructivism, Inter-state socialization, Territorial Disputes, Treaty Commitment, UN General Assembly, International relations, International obligations, Treaties, Boundary disputes

Subject Categories

International Law | International Relations | Political Science


Does states’ treaty commitment promote the inter-state socialization? A gap exists in the existing constructivist International Relations literature as to which agents could promote the internalization of constitutive beliefs through which process. This project seeks to illuminate whether states’ treaty commitments have promoted the inter-state socialization in three dimensions: (1) the convergence of voting patterns in the UN General Assembly (2) the convergence of state practices in territorial disputes (3) the emergence of rules-oriented domestic governance. I draw on classical sociology, public law theory, the English School theory, and the Transnational Legal Process theory to develop the Social Theory of International Relations that best explains the relationship between treaty commitments and the inter-state socialization. I test my theory against the realist-oriented legal theory that is also developed herein. To test competing theories, the empirical portion of dissertation consists of a mixed method: (1) large-N statistical testing and (2) a comparative case study on China and Vietnam. In each empirical test, treaties were broadly divided into universal treaties and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs). The result of empirical testing is mixed; the socialization impacts of the treaty commitments are confirmed only in some areas and among some states. The result imposes a qualification on the social theory claim. Although states’ treaty commitments might result in inter-state socialization, its impacts are gradual and not evenly distributed in all areas and among all states. At the same time, the results also demonstrate that the power-oriented and instrumental perspective of realists on law does not fully explain the role of law in international society