Neo-Gramscians have made invaluable contributions to expanding traditional IR/IPE theory. Nevertheless, as the following article indicates, the ontological, epistemological, and methodological positions they adopt results in a rather one-sided interpretation of Antonio Gramsci and a partial, at times erroneous, account of the nature of the current global system. In highlighting these oversights, the neo neo-Gramscian approach presented here - rooted in a critical realist philosophy of science, specifically emergentist materialism', and involving a more complete reading of Gramsci - seeks to lay the basis for the elaboration of a more convincing theoretical and conceptual framework to analyse the changing dynamics of contemporary world order, without which the Coxian critical theory dream of engendering social emancipation cannot be fully realised.
International politics has often been viewed as a brutal place where might trumps right and where, as a consequence, questions of democracy are irrelevant to ask. In the last decades, however, scholars and political leaders have increasingly suggested that elements of democracy exist in governance beyond individual states. If this is so, how does democracy beyond the state shape international politics? This article suggests conceptual preliminaries for theorising consequences of democracy beyond the state in general and their implications for problems of peace and conflict in particular. The purpose is twofold: first, to begin reconstructing existing normative democratic theory into an explanatory perspective sensitive to international politics; second, to indicate how this new perspective is able to explain empirical observations pertaining to conflict and cooperation among states; international institutions; foreign policies; human rights protection; and the violence of transnational terrorist networks.
How China assumes its position of superpower is one of the most important questions regarding global order in the twenty-first century. While considerable and sustained attention has been paid to China's growing economic and military might, work examining how China is attempting, if at all, to influence the ecosystem of global norms is in its earlier stages. In this article we examine China's actions in an important venue for the development of global norms, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Using a unique dataset that captures how other countries move into or out of alignment with China on UNGA resolutions that are repeated over time, we find statistical evidence that China used diplomatic and economic means in an attempt to subtly alter international norms. We further illustrate these findings by examining four states that made substantive moves toward China on resolutions concerning national sovereignty, democracy, international order, non-interference, and human rights.
The rise of China has sparked a debate about the economic and political consequences for the global economy of the internationalisation of the renminbi. We argue that the dominant focus of this literature-primarily the external conditions and requirements for a national currency to become an international currency-misspecifies the connections between the international and domestic requirements for currency internationalisation, as well as the potential to become the dominant international reserve currency. We correct this oversight by developing an integrated theoretical framework that highlights the domestic adjustment costs which a state must accommodate before its currency can carry the weight of internationalisation. These costs constitute a critical element of an international currency's 'political economy', and they force states to negotiate contentious social trade-offs among competing domestic claims on finite public resources in a sustainable manner. Our analysis suggests that the likelihood of China being able to successfully negotiate the social costs associated with running a fully internationalised currency is currently very low, precisely because this will place unacceptable pressure on groups benefiting from the economic and political status quo. This further suggests that the American dollar will remain unchallenged as the global economy's pre-eminent international currency for the foreseeable future.
Scholarship has traditionally portrayed transnational NGOs (TNGOs) as principled' actors animated by global norms to advance human rights, sustainable development, humanitarian relief, environmental stewardship, and conflict resolution. However, scholarship has also identified instances in which TNGOs appear to act instrumentally' by engaging in resource-maximising behaviour seemingly inconsistent with their principled nature. Moreover, prior scholarship addressing this puzzle has been constrained by the limitations of small-n case studies examining relatively narrow subsectors of the TNGO community. Addressing these limitations, we reexamine the logic of TNGO behaviour in light of findings from an interdisciplinary, mixed-method research initiative consisting of in-depth, face-to-face interviews with a diverse sample of 152 top organisational leaders from all major sectors of TNGO activity. Using an inductive approach to discover how TNGO leaders understand their own behaviour, we introduce the heuristic of principled instrumentalism' and specify our framework with a formal model.
One of the central assumptions underlying the stakeholder model is that strengthened opportunities for involvement of non-state actors in political procedures hold significant promise for making those procedures more democratically legitimate. However, recent studies show that more open international organisations (IOs) are not perceived as more legitimate by non-state actors. In this article we explore one potential reason to explain this apparent paradox, investigating whether, and under what conditions, strengthened opportunities of stakeholder involvement enable the effective representation of global constituencies. The article shows that globalisation and politicisation of IOs go hand in hand with greater political activity by non-state actors defending domestic, rather than global, interests. Globalisation and politicisation may thus contribute to the exponential growth of the community of non-state actors active at IOs, but they do not make such community more globalised in nature. The article also illustrates that granting greater access to stakeholders in international institutions can somehow mitigate the effects of this underlying structural factors, and that institutional openness disproportionally fosters political activity by civic, rather than business, global stakeholders. We advance these arguments relying on a novel dataset including over eight thousand organisations active at the UN climate conferences and the WTO Ministerial Conferences.
Debates over 'modernity' have been central to the development of historical-sociological approaches to International Relations (IR). Within the bourgeoning subfield of International Historical Sociology (IHS), much work has been done to formulate a historically dynamic conception of international relations, which is then used to undermine unilinear conceptions of global modernity. Nevertheless, this article argues that IHS has not proceeded far enough in successfully remedying the problem of unilinearism. The problem remains that historical narratives, informed by IHS, tend to transhistoricise capitalism, which, in turn, obscures the generative nature of international relations, as well as the fundamental heterogeneity of diverging paths to modernity both within and beyond western Europe. Based on the theory of Uneven and Combined Development, Political Marxism, and Robbie Shilliam's discussion of 'Jacobinism', this article first reinterprets the radical multilinearity of modernity within western Europe, and then utilises this reinterpretation to provide a new reading of the Ottoman path to modernity (1839-1918). Such a historical critique and reconstruction will highlight the significance of Jacobinism for a more accurate theorisation of the origin and development of the modern international order, hence contributing to a deeper understanding of the international relations of modernity.
Scholars of International Relations have called for the creation of a post-Western IR that reflects the global and local contexts of the declining power and legitimacy of the West. Recognising this discourse as indicative of the postcolonial condition, we deploy Homi Bhabha's concept of mimicry and James C. Scott's notion of metis to assess whether international political dynamics of a hybrid kind are emerging. Based on interviews with Central Asian political, economic, and cultural elites, we explore the emergence of a new global politics of a post-Western type. We find that Russia substantively mimics the West as a post-Western power and that there are some suggestive examples of the role of metis in its foreign policy. Among Central Asian states, the picture is more equivocal. Formal mimicry and metis of a basic kind are observable, but these nascent forms suggest that the dialectical struggle between colonial clientelism and anti-colonial nationalism remains in its early stages. In this context, a post-Western international politics is emerging with a postcolonial aspect but without the emergence of the substantive mimicry and hybrid spaces characteristic of established postcolonial relations.
This article makes the case for a new field in International Relations (IR): the Global Politics of Medicine. It argues that significant avenues of research can be opened up by focusing on medicine and the life sciences, in order to both challenge current IR theories, and develop new theoretical and empirical insights in IR. In particular, the article challenges the validity of securitisation theory, and specifically the argument that health has been securitised. Showing instead that medicine and warfare have been imbricated from the nineteenth century as strategies of population, it challenges securitisation theory's ahistoricism and its assumption that social security and international security (and the norm/exception) are analytically divisible. Bringing this into the present through the examples of triage, psychological resilience, and genetic intelligence in counterinsurgency, it traces how warfare and medicine now ambitiously seek to treat populations as sets of individual bodies. Arguing that we cannot retreat to some mythical state of politics 'prior' to securitisation, it draws out how the fields of war, health, and medicine are nonetheless highly contested. The article concludes by challenging the fields of Global Health, war, and security studies, but also suggests novel routes for pursuing the study of the Global Politics of Medicine.
To say that states are 'actors' or 'persons' is to attribute to them properties we associate first with human beings-rationality, identities, interests, beliefs, and so on. Such attributions pervade social science and International Relations (IR) scholarship in particular. They are found in the work of realists, liberals, institutionalists, Marxists, constructivists, behaviouralists, feminists, postmodernists, international lawyers, and almost everyone in between. To be sure, scholars disagree about which properties of persons should be ascribed to states, how important state persons are relative to other corporate persons like MNCs or NGOs, whether state persons are a good thing, and whether 'failed' states can or should be persons at all. But all this discussion assumes that the idea of state personhood is meaningful and at some fundamental level makes sense. In a field in which almost everything is contested, this seems to be one thing on which almost all of us agree. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT
This article further conceptualises and empirically tests the concept of ontological security. This concept, which refers to an actor's need to have a secure identity, has been used in International Relations (IR) mainly to study situations in which states face a threat to one of their identities. However, my focus here is on situations in which states are facing threats to a number of identities they hold, situations that result in what I term ontological dissonance. In such cases, not only are various distinct identities threatened, but the solutions to ease these threats are contradictory, forcing the state to choose between different cherished values. I contend that in such situations avoidance can become an attractive option for states in dealing with the difficulties arising from this dilemma. This theoretical framework is used to explain Israel's unilateral steps toward the Palestinians in recent years. I argue that the terror attacks of the Second Intifada (2000-2005) represented more than a physical security threat to Israel. The attacks and Israel's initial response to them aggravated threats to a number of Israel's identities and, more importantly, emphasised existing and potential future clashes among these identities. As a result, Israeli policy makers advanced unilateral steps to reduce these threats and to ease the accompanying ontological dissonance. These unilateral measures can thus be understood as measures of avoidance, and as such they complicated further cooperation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
This article aims to show the added value of studying transnational advocacy networks through a discursive approach in order to better understand the outcomes of norm diffusion in postconflict contexts. I argue that constructivist approaches to norm diffusion fall short as an explanation of norm adoption because they assume an automatic process of norm propagation through socialisation mechanisms. The first goal of the article is then to discuss how the internal dynamics of discourse negotiation in transnational advocacy networks impact the diffusion and implementation of international norms. The second goal is to propose the concept of the rebound effect and to explore the conditions under which it takes place. Through data collected during extended fieldwork, the article examines a prominent case, namely the transnational campaign for the implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security in Burundi and Liberia. I ask why and how the campaign was understood as a success in Liberia and as a failure in Burundi. I argue that there is another way of looking at these cases in less dichotomised ways. Crucially, my findings demonstrate how in both cases a very particular discourse on gender security is (re)produced through power relations between local and transnational activists limiting the type of policies that are advocated for and depoliticising the grassroots.
As a discipline, IR returns repeatedly to the problem of harm'; debating what harm is or should mean. Exploring the discipline through this lens allows us to understand it as contributing to a broader process of negotiation centred on harm as a principle of restraint. However, existing accounts of what harm means for IR are challenged by the scale and visibility of large-scale harm. This article attempts to push beyond recent accounts of harm by Linklater and Mitchell by examining their respective framings of the relationship between harm and its explanation in IR. Building on their limitations, I propose a framework centred on arguments for ontological realism and structure as a focus for explanation. The resulting ontology sustains the concerns of both while: (a) more fully characterising the relationship between explanation and values in IR; and (b) providing a more adequate account of the role of abstraction. In developing upon existing accounts, this article seeks to provide a stronger ground for the analysis of harm in IR. More broadly, it contributes to contemporary debates centred on the relationship between ontology and values with a view to clarifying the nature of explanation in IR as a social science.
This article explores the European Union’s (EU) practices of international state recognition in a transitional international order. It illustrates the difficulties that the EU has encountered in attempting to reach a collective position on sensitive cases of recognition – through a complex balance of internal and external considerations – at a time when the norms regarding recognition are increasingly under challenge. Whether the organisation takes a collective European position on recognition or allows its members to adopt individual national positions, acute inconsistencies and tensions have been exposed, with implications for the EU’s standing in the world. Through this, the article identifies a key tension between the EU’s normative commitments and its geopolitical interests. In conclusion, the article argues that while a uniform EU policy on recognition may not be feasible and case-by-case pragmatism will likely continue, a more coherent approach and greater understanding of the impact of the EU’s position on recognition are necessary. The article draws upon interview material and extensive analysis of official EU documentation in order to provide new insights into this complex challenge. By exploring the intricacies of recognition politics, the article also makes an empirical contribution to understanding the practice of international relations in this area.
Why do interstate relations deteriorate and become conflictual, even under conditions where one might expect improved ties? The article seeks an answer to this question through a case study of the deterioration in Sino-Japanese relations in the twenty-first century, which took place despite the existence of several factors that might be thought likely to have led to an improvement. Existing theoretical approaches cannot fully explain this puzzle. The article argues that such deteriorations can result from disruptions to states' reciprocally performed routinised recognition, and identifies three mechanisms through which these can occur. To facilitate this argument, the article draws on scholarship on relational identity, recognition, and ontological security to develop a theory of identity construction that takes account of how self and other routinise the ways in which they recognise each other and how they react to the other's representational practices.
Regional powers of the Global South are perceived to be agents of change. But what exactly is the nature of the change that they want? This article argues that there is some continuity between the goals of the current generation of regional leaders and that of their predecessors. The current generation tend to have more confidence in their ability to effect the redistribution of wealth, prestige, and power in the global political economy, though, and tend therefore to be more integrationist than the first generation of post-colonial leaders. The goal of redistribution is premised on a more fundamental unfinished struggle of developing countries, one that Brazil, India, and South Africa in particular have taken up. This is the struggle for recognition of developing countries as full and equal partners in the society of states, but also as states with specific development needs that are too easily ploughed-under in the spurious universality promoted by the developed North. The struggle for recognition focuses on inclusive multilateralism and ' nonindifference' towards the development needs of the Global South. Using recent contributions to the theory of recognition, the article interprets these two goals as linked to the unfinished struggle against disrespect and humiliation.
Little interest has thus far been paid to the role of cities in world politics. Yet, several are the examples of city-based engagements suggesting an emerging urban presence in international relations. The Climate Leadership Group, despite its recent lineage, is perhaps the most significant case of metropolitan intersection with global governance. To illustrate this I rely on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to develop a qualitative network analysis of the evolution of the C40 in the past seven years from a limited gathering of municipal leaders to a transnational organisation partnering with the World Bank. Pinpointed on the unfolding of a twin diplomacy/planning approach, the evolution of the C40 can demonstrate the key role of global cities as actors in global environmental politics. These cities have a pivotal part in charting new geographies of climate governance, prompting the rise of subpolitical policymaking arrangements pinpointed on innovative and hybrid connections. Yet, there remains some important rational continuity, in particular with neoliberalism, which ultimately limits the revolutionary potential these cities might have for international relations.
This study examines the effects of contestation on individual norms that are embedded in larger norm clusters. We define norm clusters as collections of aligned, but distinct norms or principles at the center of a regime. Norm clusters include multiple norms that can be insulated from contestatory challenges by degrees of cohesion, institutionalisation, and legalisation. While some constructivists argue that the most important dynamic to study is 'robustness' of individual norms, we contend that 'resiliency' of norm clusters offers a richer assessment of prospects for international cooperation and long-term impact on state behaviours. Thus, this study distinguishes conceptually between different structural layers that can generate various effects in conjunction with norm contestation. We add a third, or intervening layer of explanation with norm clusters, between the intersection of norms (lowest layer) and normative structures (broadest layer). To explore this argument, comparative case studies examine the resiliency of two prohibitionary norms - the nuclear disarmament norm within the non-proliferation regime and the norm banning assassination of foreign adversaries, which is not embedded in a regime structure. While the robustness of individual norms may be challenged, our results suggest a role for resilient structures in promoting overall longevity of norm clusters.
In recent years, satellite imagery, previously restricted to the defence and intelligence communities, has been made available to a range of non-state actors as well. Non-governmental organisations, journalists, and celebrities such as George Clooney now use remote sensing data like digital Sherlock Holmeses to investigate and reveal human rights abuses, political violence, environmental destruction, and eco-crimes from a distance. It is often said that the increasing availability and applicability of remote sensing technologies has contributed to the rise of what can be called 'satellite-based activism' empowering non-state groups to challenge state practices of seeing and showing. In this article we argue that NGO activism is not challenging the sovereign gaze of the state but, on the contrary, actually reinforcing it. We will bolster our arguments in this regard in two prominent fields of non-governmental remote sensing: human rights and environmental governance.