International Society: Global/Regional Dimensions and Geographic Expansion
- Yannis A. StivachtisYannis A. StivachtisCollege of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech
To understand the global and regional dimensions of the contemporary international society, one must become familiar with the English School literature related to the historical expansion of the European society of states and its gradual transformation to the global international society of today. There is a distinction between an international system and an international society. English School scholars have accepted that this distinction is valid, but the boundary line between the two concepts is problematic. According to the English School literature, before and during the establishment of the European society of states, the world was divided into many regional international systems/societies—each with its own distinctive rules and institutions reflecting the dominant regional culture. The global international society of the early twentieth century was the result of the expansion of the European international society, which gradually brought other regional international systems/societies into contact with one another. However, World War I led to the destruction of the European society of states. Moreover, the emergence of a bipolar world in conjunction with the imperial Soviet policies during the Cold War led to the division of the global international system into two separate international societies. Nevertheless, with the end of the Cold War, a united global international society emerged. Within the confines of the global gesellschaft international society, one can find several gemeinschaft types of regional international societies—some of which are more developed than others.