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Renner, Judith (October 2011): "I'm sorry for apologising": Czech and German apologies and their perlocutionary effects. In: Review of International Studies, Vol. 37, No. 4: pp. 1579-1597




This article inquires into the effects of public apologies. It argues that the focus of most scholars of public diplomacy or conflict resolution on the conflict solving capacity of public apologies is limited and prevents an open and responsive analysis of empirical apology processes. Drawing on speech act theory as developed by John L. Austin and some of his critics it suggests that existing apology theory should broaden its perspective and also take the perlocutionary, that is, the unintended social effects of public apologies into account. The article illustrates its theoretical argument with the example of the Czech-German apology process. The apologies issued between these countries since 1989 suggest that the conflict solving performance of the apologies was exceeded by the unintended social consequences in both, the apologising country as well as the country receiving the apology.