We develop scholarship on status in international politics by focusing on the social dimension of small and middle power status politics. This vantage opens a new window on the widely-discussed strategies social actors may use to maintain and enhance their status, showing how social creativity, mobility, and competition can all be system-supporting under some conditions. We extract lessons for other thorny issues in status research, notably questions concerning when, if ever, status is a good in itself; whether it must be a positional good; and how states measure it.
Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) are emerging as key technologies of future warfare. So far, academic debate concentrates on the legal-ethical implications of AWS but these do not capture how AWS may shape norms through defining diverging standards of appropriateness in practice. In discussing AWS, the article formulates two critiques on constructivist models of norm emergence: first, constructivist approaches privilege the deliberative over the practical emergence of norms; and second, they overemphasise fundamental norms rather than also accounting for procedural norms, which we introduce in this article. Elaborating on these critiques allows us to respond to a significant gap in research: we examine how standards of procedural appropriateness emerging in the development and usage of AWS often contradict fundamental norms and public legitimacy expectations. Normative content may therefore be shaped procedurally, challenging conventional understandings of how norms are constructed and considered as relevant in International Relations. In this, we outline the contours of a research programme on the relationship of norms and AWS, arguing that AWS can have fundamental normative consequences by setting novel standards of appropriate action in international security policy.
In recent years there has been a 'turn' to thinking about war through the experiences of those touched by it. While this scholarship has generated numerous important insights, its focus has tended to remain on wars' violences, those responsible for enacting them, and the effects of such violence. In this article, the experiences of pleasure and joy in war that simultaneously take place are placed centre stage. Drawing on three war novels, the article tracks three recurring themes of pleasurable and joyful experiences related to war: bodily pleasures, the 'togetherness' of war, and moments of joy that escape war's reach. Through this focus, war is shown to work across a range of affective registers and as never totalising or universalising in its experience. The article argues that paying attention to joy and pleasure can work to displace war as a focus of analysis, directing attention instead to the experiences of those who live through war and how they survive, sustain, and resist it.
The article examines the roles of NGOs in banning cluster munitions that resulted in the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions and the campaign against landmines in the 1990s. It argues that NGOs have managed to move questions about the use of force from the closed decision-making sphere of military commanders and arms control diplomats into open public debate. Thus NGOs have simultaneously desecuritised the use of force by states, securitised certain weapons technologies, and made human beings the referent object of security. This has marked a shift from state security and strategic disarmament to human security and humanitarian disarmament, without fundamentally challenging the laws of war. However, in contrast to realist views that only militarily useless weapons ever get banned and radical critical perspectives that see new legal regimes as legitimating war and US hegemony, I argue that NGOs have engaged in immanent critique of military arguments and practices based on prevailing principles of international humanitarian law. The resulting weapon ban treaties have both restrained US policy and undermined its legitimacy. The article explores the discursive choices that underpinned the remaking of the security agenda by NGOs and their role as de/securitising actors and emancipatory agents of change.
Increasingly, private companies - including Twitter, airlines, and banks - find themselves in the frontline of fighting terrorism and other security threats, because they are obliged to mine and expel suspicious transactions. This analytical work of companies forms part of a chain, whereby transactions data are analysed, collected, reported, shared, and eventually deployed as a basis for intervention by police and prosecution. This article develops the notion of the Chain of Security in order to conceptualise the ways in which security judgements are made across public/private domains and on the basis of commercial transactions. Drawing on the work of Bruno Latour, this article understands the security chain as the set of practices whereby commercial transactions are collected, stored, transferred, and analysed, in order to arrive at security facts. Understanding the trajectory of the suspicious transaction as a series of translations across professional domains draws attention to the processes of sequencing, movement, and referral in the production of security judgements. The article uses the chain of financial suspicious transactions reporting as example to show how this research 'thinking tool' can work. In doing so, it aims to contribute to debates at the intersection between International Relations (IR) and Science-and-Technology Studies (STS).
The creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 1998 marked a substantial advance in the effort to ensure all perpetrators of mass atrocities can be brought to justice. Yet significant resistance to the anti-impunity norm, and the ICC as the implementing institution, has arisen in Africa. The ICC has primarily operated in Africa, and since it sought to indict the sitting Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2008 resistance from both individual African states and the African Union has increased substantially. We draw on the concept of norm antipreneurs', and the broader norm dynamics literature, to analyse how resistance has developed and manifested itself, as well as the potential effects of this resistance on the anti-impunity norm. We conclude that the antipreneur concept helped us structure and organise analysis of the case - suggesting it could be usefully deployed in other similar cases - but that this case also suggests that antipreneurs do not always enjoy substantial defensive advantages. We also conclude that African resistance to the ICC has substantially stalled the advance of the anti-impunity norm, a finding that has significant implications for the wider effort to reduce mass atrocity crimes in the contemporary era.
This article theorises the simultaneous enaction of securitising and desecuritising moves. It argues that the frequent simultaneity of these two processes, which are normally considered mutually exclusive within Securitisation Theory (ST), has previously gone unnoticed given a set of methodological, temporal, and ontological biases that have developed within ST. Demonstrating how these biases can be overcome - and even reconciled with the seminal texts of ST - by drawing on work from within social theory and elsewhere, we argue that the frequent simultaneity of (de)securitising moves most urgently requires us to reconsider the normative status of desecuritisation within ST. Although desecuritisation has traditionally been viewed as normatively positive, we argue that its temporally immanent enaction alongside securitising moves might introduce more violence into security politics and, in fact, exacerbate protracted conflicts. Ultimately, we make the normative ambitions of some within ST more opaque. Desecuritisation is not a shortcut to the ethical-political good within ST.
Taking the phenomenon of empire as its starting point, this article seeks to provide a framework for addressing the question of how and why international systems change over time. Synthesising elements from network-relational analysis and practice theory, I argue that international systems are best thought of as being composed of multiple partially overlapping and interrelated hierarchical networks. These networks are made up of social ties - as in classic network analysis - but also of specific repertoires of practice. Systemic transformations happen through the reconfiguration of networks, both through shifts in social ties and through changes in their practices. Empire provides a particularly illuminating window into the topic of systemic change, in part because a major driver of historical transformations has been the expansion of empires and their encounters with other heterogeneous polities across the globe, and in part because a focus on imperial interactions highlights the limitations of existing unit-centric perspectives. Drawing on examples from the nineteenth century, I illustrate the usefulness of the framework by showing how different regionally anchored systems came into contact with the expanding spheres of Western empires and how such points of interaction contributed to the development of an increasingly global international system.
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.
A focus on misrecognition allows us to move between levels of analysis in a holistic fashion. If misrecognition works through the conscious and the unconscious we can account for the many overlapping insecurities and securities believed to exist at the individual, group, or state level – and thus felt. These insecurities also present themselves through the categories used to describe them and the policies through which they become materialised, technologised, and depoliticised, often by closing down discursive boundaries. Lacan’s concepts of desire, real and lack are here important for understanding the impossibility of recognising something that cannot be recognised. Hence, a perspective that takes misrecognition not as an end result or as failed attempts to reformulate the exceptional as the normal, has the potential to rethink the political subject. In empirical terms, the article discusses how this process of misrecognition has been shaped in the Indian context of postcolonial state formation and articulations of sovereignty. We show how the Indian state is being rethought, restructured, and reimagined through Hindu nationalism and how the concept of misrecognition accounts for desires for sovereign agency and group cohesiveness, but also for resistance to various reimaginations of the Indian state.
China and India, as rising powers, have been proactive in seeking status as nuclear responsibles. Since the 1990s they have sought to demonstrate conformity with intersubjectively accepted understandings of nuclear responsibility within the global nuclear order, and have also sought recognition on the basis of particularistic practices of nuclear restraint. This article addresses two puzzles. First, nuclear restraint is at the centre of the pursuit of global nuclear order, so why have China and India not received recognition from influential members of the nuclear order for the full spectrum of their restraint-based behaviours? Second, why do China and India nonetheless persist with these behaviours? We argue that the conferral of status as a nuclear responsible is a politicised process shaped by the interests, values, and perceptions of powerful stakeholder states in the global nuclear order. China's and India's innovations are not incorporated into the currently accepted set of responsible nuclear behaviours because, indirectly, they pose a strategic, political, and social challenge to these states. However, China's and India's innovations are significant as an insight into their identity-projection and preferred social roles as distinctive rising powers, and as a means of introducing new, if nascent, ideas into non-proliferation practice and governance.
This article critically examines recent works on resilience. In so doing, it argues that rather than representing some radical rupture with current practices heralding the dawn of a new era, as David Chandler claims, the emphasis on individuals as resilient subjects simply represents a new phase in the neoliberal shift from the state as provider to state as enabler and promoter of self-reliance. Indeed, our present preoccupation with complexity, uncertainty, and resilience can best be understood as reflecting the consequences of neoliberal policies Moreover, the article further argues that there is an attendant danger that resilience thinking may further promote neoliberal forms of governmentality and encourage a degree of political passivity. The emphasis on resilience is in danger of depoliticising highly political choices, shifting attention toward ex-post policies of survival and recovery rather than challenging the current economic order and resisting the further imposition of neoliberal policies on already beleaguered populations. This article therefore argues for shifting our emphasis towards a Foucauldian analysis of power and resistance.
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.
Relations of sovereign inequality permeate international politics, and a growing body of literature grapples with the question of how states establish and sustain hierarchy amidst anarchy. I argue that existing literature on hierarchy, for all its diverse insights, misses what makes hierarchy unique in world politics. Hierarchy is not simply the presence of inequality or stratification among actors, but rather an authority relationship in which a dominant actor exercises some modicum of control over a subordinate one. This authority relationship, moreover, is dramatically different than ones found in domestic hierarchies. It is shaped less by written laws or formal procedures, than by subtle forms of manipulation and the development of informal practices. For this reason, hierarchy cannot simply be reduced the to the dynamics of anarchy, and must be viewed as a relational phenomenon. Ties between actors create positions that permit dominant actors to appropriate and orchestrate the sharing of authority with subordinate intermediaries. This article develops this relational network approach, highlighting how concepts such as access, brokerage, and yoking can illuminate the processes by which authority is enlisted and appropriated in world politics.