The concept of epistemic communities — professional networks with authoritative and policy-relevant expertise — is well-known thanks to a 1992 special issue of International Organization. Over the past twenty years, the idea has gained some traction in International Relations scholarship, but has not evolved much beyond its original conceptualisation. Much of the research on epistemic communities has been limited to single case studies in articles, rather than broader comparative works, and has focused narrowly on groups of scientists. As a result, it is often assumed, erroneously, that epistemic communities are only comprised of scientists, and that the utility of the concept for understanding International Relations is quite narrow. Consequently, an otherwise promising approach to transnational networks has become somewhat marginalised over the years. This article revisits the concept of epistemic communities twenty years later and proposes specific innovations to the framework. In an increasingly globalising world, transnational actors are becoming progressively more numerous and influential. Epistemic communities are certainly at the forefront of these trends, and a better understanding of how they form and operate can give us a clear demonstration of how knowledge translates into power.
Recent debates over Leon Trotsky's idea of 'uneven and combined development' (U&CD) have focused on its potential in the field of International Relations, but they have not established the source of this potential. Does it derive from the philosophical premises of dialectics? The present article argues that the idea of U&CD in fact involves an innovation as fundamental for Marxist dialectics as for other branches of social theory. And it also argues that in formulating this innovation, Trotsky provided a general solution to some of the most basic problems in social and international thought. The argument is set out in three parts. The first part reconstructs Trotsky's own account of dialectical premises and their implications for social explanation. The second shows how the concept of U&CD departs from this, in ways that presuppose the tacit addition of a further ontological premise. Finally, part three analyses the locus classicus of the concept – the opening chapter of Trotsky's History of the Russian Revolution – showing how it is this additional premise which underpins the central achievement of the idea: its incorporation of 'the international' into a theory of history.
Since 2008, the leaders of industrialised and emerging economies have engaged in steering the global economy through the G20. Divergent national positions were to be expected based upon the different stages of economic development and according to previously existing international groups. The actual controversies in the G20 did not reflect these patterns, however, but showed divergence both between industrialised countries and between emerging economies. In explaining this puzzle, I argue that the driving forces for global economic governance have ceased to be industrialised or emerging countries' alliances and levels of development. Rather, the causes for the positions of G20 members can be found in economic interests and ideas dominant in the domestic politics of countries. These societal influences shape governmental preference formation in both industrialised and emerging countries and consequently influence their behaviour in global governance. The resulting divergences weaken previously existing groups such as the G7 and the BRICs, and create a new pattern in world politics. This societal approach to explaining governmental positions in global economic governance is exemplified on the core G20 issues of stimulus/public debt and global imbalances/exchange rates.
The ability of International Relations theory to 'travel well' to other parts of the world has become one of the central questions within the discipline. This article argues that a Foucauldian-derived 'analytics of government' framework has particular advantages in overcoming some of the difficulties IR theory has faced abroad. These advantages include a methodological focus on specific practices of power at their point of application; attention to similarities between practices of power that cut across perceived binaries such as the domestic and international, and public and private; and an illumination of the ways in which practices of freedom are combined and interrelate with forms of coercion and violence. This argument is illustrated in the context of debates about the applicability of Foucauldian theory to African politics, through examples drawn from Bayart's work on globalisation, the power of development partnerships, and violence and civil war. It argues that deploying governmentality as an analytical framework, rather than seeing it as a specifically neoliberal form of power relation, can not only facilitate the application of IR theory outside Europe and North America but can also help develop a broader perspective on genuinely world politics.
How can trusting relationships be identified in international politics? The recent wave of scholarship on trust in International Relations answers this question by looking for one or the combination of three indicators - the incidence of cooperation; discourses expressing trust; or the calculated acceptance of vulnerability. These methods are inadequate both theoretically and empirically. Distinguishing between the concepts of trust and confidence, we instead propose an approach that focuses on the actors' hedging strategies. We argue that actors either declining to adopt or removing hedging strategies is a better indicator of a trusting relationship than the alternatives. We demonstrate the strength of our approach by showing how the existing approaches would suggest the US-Soviet relationship to be trusting when it was not so. In contrast, the US-Japanese alliance relationship allows us to show how we can identify a developing trusting relationship.
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.
The ever closer collaboration between intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is empirically well described but poorly theorised. In this article I develop a general theoretical framework for analysing emergent patterns of cooperation between IGOs and NGOs, which may be used to generate hypotheses or guide comparatives studies. The starting point is a conception of organisational actors as purposeful but resource-dependent. The article then combines a 'resource exchange perspective' from organisational sociology with the model of a policy cycle from comparative politics. The result is a theoretical framework that allows to identify incentives for, as well as obstacles to, IGO-NGO cooperation along all phases of the policy cycle. In a concluding section the limits of this model and the underlying assumptions are discussed.
Discourse in the US/West that a rising China threatens world order serves no national interest or international purpose. It subscribes only to Westphalian anxieties about the Other. Drawing on Daoist dialectics, this article shows how we can reframe this issue by revealing the complicities that bind even seemingly intractable opposites, thereby undermining the rationale for violence. By recognising the ontological parity between (US/Western) Self and (Chinese/non-Western) Other, we may begin to shift IR/world politics from hegemony to engagement, the 'tragedy' of great power politics to the freedom of discovery and creativity.
The study of regionalism is often characterised as too fragmented, plagued by disagreements over such fundamental matters as its ontological and epistemological premises, which also hinder efforts at substantive comparison of regionalisation processes. In this article it is argued that to overcome these problems, what is required is a more rigorous incorporation of such studies within relevant work in state theory and political geography. The key insight herein is that regionalism should not be studied separately from the state as these are interrelated phenomena. State-making and regionalisation are both manifestations of contested political projects aimed at shaping the territorial, institutional, and/or functional scope of political rule. Furthermore, the article also distils the lines of a mechanismic methodology for comparative regionalism. Its main advantage is in overcoming the implicit benchmarking of regional development we find in other approaches. The framework's utility is then demonstrated through a comparison of regional governance in Asia and Europe.
In the context of the contemporary crisis of neoliberal political economy, the politics of austerity has reasserted the liberal utility of the state as the political authority of market freedom. This article argues that economy has no independent existence, and that instead, economy is a political practice. It examines the political economy of Adam Smith and the German ordoliberal tradition to decipher the character of the political in political economy and its transformation from Smith's liberal theory into neoliberal theology. Ordoliberalism emerged in the late 1920s at a time of a manifest crisis of political economy, and its argument was fundamental for the development of the neoliberal conception that free economy is matter of strong state authority. The conclusion argues with Marx that the state is the concentrated force of free economy.
This article responds to issues raised about global governmentality studies by Jan Selby, Jonathan Joseph, and David Chandler, especially regarding the implications of 'scaling up' a concept originally designed to describe the politics of advanced liberal societies to the international realm. In response to these charges, I argue that critics have failed to take full stock of Foucault's contribution to the study of global liberalism, which owes more to economic than political liberalism. Taking Foucault's economic liberalism seriously, that is, shifting the focus from questions of natural rights, legitimate rule, and territorial security to matters of government, population management, and human betterment reveals how liberalism operates as a universal, albeit not yet global, measure of truth, best illustrated by the workings of global capital. While a lot more translation work (both empirical and conceptual) is needed before governmentality can be convincingly extended to global politics, Foucauldian approaches promise to add a historically rich and empirically grounded dimension to IR scholarship that should not be hampered by disciplinary admonitions.
In 2006, the European Union launched its new free trade strategy Global Europe with the explicit goal of increasing European competitiveness. This article explores the positions of trade unions and other social movements on Global Europe. Importantly, while Northern social movements and trade unions from the Global South reject Global Europe due to its impact of deindustrialisation on developing countries, European trade unions support it in so far as it opens up new markets for the export of European manufactured goods. It will be argued that this has to be understood against the background of the dynamics underlying the global economy and here in particular uneven and combined development. Due to the uneven integration of different parts of the world into the global economy, workers in developed countries may actually benefit from free trade, while workers in the Global South are more likely to lose out. It will, however, also be argued that while these different positions within the social relations of production are shaping the position of trade unions, they do not determine them. Over time, through direct engagement, trade unions in the North and South may be able to establish relations of transnational solidarity.
Cosmopolitanism has been argued to be a crucial component of peacebuilding, both with regard to its aims as well as its staff. In a universalist-liberal understanding of the concept, cosmopolitanism is the optimal mind frame for peacebuilders to rebuild post-war societies, due to the tolerance, justice-orientation, and neutrality regarding local cleavages that the concept entails in theory. This article argues, however, that cosmopolitanism cannot be understood outside of its social context, therefore requiring sociological empirical analyses. Drawing on three such sociological concepts, namely elite, glocal, and localisable cosmopolitanism, the article analyses empirically through interviews with peacebuilders in Kosovo whether and in which form these international civil servants display cosmopolitan worldviews. The study concludes that while in theory the localisable variant would be best suited to contribute to locally sensitive, emancipatory peacebuilding, this form of cosmopolitanism is absent in practice. Given the novel, exploratory character of this analysis of hitherto uncharted terrain, the article also discusses in detail how the findings were obtained and in how far they are generalisable.
This article explores L. T. Hobhouse's transformation of liberal internationalism at the beginning of the twentieth century. It argues that Hobhouse's thought contributes to understanding dilemmas within the frame of liberal internationalism and the emergence of international functionalism. Using a philosophical approach, Hobhouse tackled international concerns throughout his life, alongside J. A. Hobson, Gilbert Murray, James Bryce, H. N. Brailsford, Norman Angell, and G. L. Dickinson. He restated a belief in human progress and association in ever-greater circles. But he noted, contra former hopes, that nationalism furthered democracy only briefly, and that liberal democracy remained incapable of bringing about effective international cooperation and moral universalism. In order to resolve this impasse, Hobhouse suggested substituting political with economic democracy on an international scale. The aim was to create an international functional organisation consisting of vocational and civic associations and states, which would allow individuals to entertain multiple, overlapping, and transnational loyalties. He thus anticipated proposals for global reform that became increasingly popular after the end of World War II. However, in spite of his concern with domestic social equality and his borrowing from international socialism, Hobhouse failed to qualify his internationalism with an analogous interest in equality.
This article demonstrates the significance of human rights for challenging state violence and terrorism. It is intended to enhance understanding of the concept of emancipation. Critical Security Studies has tended to focus on the individual as the agent of her/his own liberation. Yet many victims of oppression are not able to free themselves. Drawing on historical materialism, it is argued that collective agency on behalf of the oppressed has a necessary role to play in emancipatory politics. Emancipation is contingent on the capacity of specific agents, located socially and historically, to identify practices that might bring about change, structures that might be transformed, and appropriate agents that are in the best position to facilitate such change. This article shows how such collective social action has forced a reversal of some of the Bush administration's repressive policies, and has partially succeeded in curtailing the arbitrary use of US state power. This has been achieved through the national and international human rights architecture. Therefore, Marxian claims that human rights should be eschewed are mistaken, since they fail to acknowledge the emancipatory potential of human rights, the opportunities they provide for collective social action, and the role they can play in transformative social change.
The central thesis of this article is that when faced with state collapse, rising violence, and a complex stabilisation effort, the US, UN, and NATO in Afghanistan and the US and Britain in Iraq, deployed the dominant, if not only, international approach available, Liberal Peacebuilding. The article traces the rise of Liberal Peacebuilding across the 1990s. It argues that four units of analysis within neoliberal ideology, the individual, the market, the role of the state and democracy, played a key role within Liberal Peacebuilding, allowing it to identify problems and propose solutions to stabilise post-conflict societies. It was these four units of analysis that were taken from the Liberal Peacebuilding approach and applied in Afghanistan and Iraq. The application of a universal template to two very different countries led directly to the fierce but weak states that exist today.
This article argues that hierarchy plays an important role in shaping the practice of intervention, and that the changing nature of international hierarchy is a crucial part of the story of how the modern practice of intervention emerged. It describes the early modern order of precedence, and contends that it was ill-suited to encouraging people to recognise intervention as a distinctive kind of practice. However, over the course of the eighteenth century the structure of international hierarchy changed, with the emergence of a new kind of grading of powers, which provided the context for the development of a practice of intervention after 1815.
At the outset of the twenty-first century, the world is facing a range of problems, including environmental, economic, and security risks, that increasingly challenge the logic of nation-state governance. While American and European models of International Relations and global governance, such as the Westphalian system of states and the Washington Consensus, have come under attack from poststructuralist thinkers, political philosophers from China and Taiwan have tried to reconceptualise the world of the twenty-first century from their own perspectives. This article examines current streams of Chinese International Relations theorising and confronts them with the case of territorial disputes in the East China Sea. The article analyses the arguments by Chinese realists, 'worldists', and procedural constructivists, showing how Chinese scholars creatively revive pre-modern Chinese political theory in attempts to provide new ways in which International Relations scholars might view the world, or: 'all-under-heaven'. I argue that these contributions will progressively challenge conventional theories of International Relations, while at the same time contending that so-called non-Western theorising, if it is to contribute to IRT, will require additional rigorous empirical grounding, a critical perspective on its entanglement with nationalist political discourses in East Asian societies, and the willingness to incorporate existing theories.
In this article I utilise the editors' conceptual frame of sovereignty/intervention/transnational social forces to argue that the relationship that ensues between these phenomena has to be understood in colonial-modern – rather than modern – terms. I thereby argue that intervention is a distinctive technology of colonial-modern rule, specifically, one that erects and polices the difference between sovereign and quasi-sovereign entities via a standard of civilisation. Additionally, I argue that transnational social forces struggle – cognitively, socially, and politically – over the upholding or refuting of this standard; and in this struggle, some might even defend particular sovereign entities against colonial interventions. I demonstrate my argument by explicating the global colonial context of the Italy/Ethiopia conflict in 1935–6, the nadir of the interwar crisis. I 'decolonise' received interpretations of the conflict through the heuristic of two differing catechisms of Psalms 68:31 proffered at the time: one, invoking a civilising mission of Africans; the other, invoking a project of self-liberation by Africans.
Antonio Gramsci's thought has strongly influenced the fields of IR and IPE through the work of Robert Cox, Stephen Gill, Kees van der Pijl and others, engagements often gathered (not uncontroversially) under the rubric of an ostensibly unified 'neo-Gramscian' position or 'the Italian School'. The emergence of such interventions into IR/IPE has sparked controversy regarding whether Gramsci's work can be legitimately applied to 'the international', both from within IR and in other fields. This article examines the validity of such critiques of 'neo-Gramscian IPE', which we argue rely on problematic characterisations and little evidence from Gramsci's writings. More substantively, we provide an exegesis of the role of the international dimension in the construction of central categories of Gramsci's thought and his approach to nation-state formation and international organisations such as the Catholic Church and the Rotary Club, which have been regrettably neglected by all facets of these discussions. We demonstrate that Gramsci can indeed be understood as a theorist of the international, whose approach is particularly salient for the present historical conjuncture.