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Article

International Organizations and Power  

Rodger A. Payne and Nayef H. Samhat

Power plays an important role in the formation of international organizations (IOs), including the formal institutions established by nation-states to promote collective action at the intergovernmental level. Power is commonly defined as the ability or authority to act, to accomplish a task or to create something new. Those who wield power are typically seen as having the ability to influence or even control the behavior of others. The willingness of states to employ material (or “hard”) power to accomplish their goals—whether those goals primarily reflect the interests of the strongest states or the shared preferences of many states—has long been the subject of scrutiny by international relations (IR) scholars. More recent scholarship approaches the topic from different perspectives, with particular attention to both the power generated by collective action and the collective identity created during the recognition and pursuit of common purposes. According to Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, there are four types of power: compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive. This typology can be linked to the way four major schools of IR theory view IOs: realism, neoliberalism, constructivism, and critical theory. Realist and neoliberal institutionalist schools use compulsory or institutional views of power to explain the development of regimes and their effects, while social constructivists and critical theorists rely on productive or structural power to tackle the meaning and importance of regimes. Scholars argue that regimes serve a cooperative function very similar to more formal IOs and provide a rationalist account of regime formation and behavior.

Article

Great-Power Competition  

Jonathan M. DiCicco and Tudor A. Onea

Great-power competition (GPC) is a touchstone for strategists and policymakers. Its popularity stems from perceptions of China’s rise, Russia’s resurgence, and the United States’ relative decline. The term’s notoriety in policy circles is related to its use in U.S. national defense and strategy guidance documents. Sometimes GPC is dismissed as a buzzword, but it is a distinctive phenomenon that deserves scholarly investigation. GPC is a classic feature of modern international relations grounded in a traditional power politics approach. Specifically, GPC is a permanent, compulsory, comprehensive, and exclusive contest for supremacy in a region or domain among those states considered to be the major players in the international system. The contest varies in intensity over time and space but remains a persistent aspect of the international system of sovereign states. Great powers field uncommonly large, sophisticated, and diversified capabilities and compete for high stakes; their competitive behavior is endemic to a stratified system in which select states are recognized as having special status. That status imparts to members of the great-power club privileges and responsibilities, including collective action to address system-wide problems. However, the competition over power, security, and status among the great powers is always present. GPC is often parsed into analytically separable dimensions (military, economic, scientific–technological, and so on), but in practice such dimensions are interrelated. Together with the great powers’ extraordinary capabilities and interests, the interdependence of these dimensions of competition tends to push GPC to be comprehensive. GPC is sometimes treated as something other than war, but when GPC intensifies, the possibility of major war looms. Patterns of GPC are identified through the lens of competing schools of thought on power politics: balance of power and hegemonic–power transition. Each provides a general framework in which GPC may be located. Scholars, however, should not confine their investigations to such frameworks; novel scholarship is warranted to further develop the concept of GPC, to characterize it and theorize about its dynamics, to further study it empirically, and to scrutinize it through critical lenses.

Article

Small States  

Yee-Kuang Heng

Scholarship in international studies has usually tended to focus on the great powers. Yet, studying small state behavior can in fact reveal deep-seated structural changes in the international system and provide significant insights into the management of power asymmetries. Overcoming the methodological limitations of gigantism in scholarship and case study selection is another epistemological benefit. Rather than conventional assumptions of weaknesses and vulnerabilities, research on small states has moved in fascinating directions toward exploring the various strategies and power capabilities that small states must use to manage their relationships with great powers. This means, even in some cases, attempts to forcibly shape their external environments through military instruments not usually associated with the category of small states. Clearly, small states are not necessarily hapless or passive. Even in terms of power capabilities that often define their weaknesses, some small states have in fact adroitly deployed niche hard power military capabilities and soft power assets as part of their playbook. These small states have projected influence in ways that belie their size constraints. Shared philosophies and mutual learning processes tend to underpin small state strategies seeking to maximize whatever influence and power they have. These include forming coalitions, principled support for international institutions, and harnessing globalization to promote their development and security interests. As globalization has supercharged the rapid economic development of some small states, the vicissitudes that come with interdependence have also injected a new understanding of vulnerability beyond that of simply military conflict. To further complicate the security environment, strategic competition between the major powers inevitably impacts on small states. How small states boost their “relevance” vis-à-vis the great powers has broader implications for questions that have animated the academy, such as power transitions and the Thucydides Trap in the international system. While exogenous systemic variables no doubt remain the focus of analysis, emerging research shows how endogenous variables such as elite perceptions, geostrategic locations and availability of military and economic resources can play a key role determining the choices small states make.

Article

Sports Diplomacy: History, Theory, and Practice  

Stuart Murray

Sports diplomacy is a new term that describes an old practice: the unique power of sport to bring people, nations, and communities closer together via a shared love of physical pursuits. This “power”—to bring strangers closer together, advance foreign policy goals or augment sport for development initiatives—remains elusive because of a lack of a robust theoretical framework. Four distinct theoretical frameworks are, however, beginning to emerge: traditional sports diplomacy, new sports diplomacy, sport-as-diplomacy, and sports antidiplomacy. As a result of these new frameworks, the complex landscape where sport, politics, and diplomacy overlap become clearer, as do the pitfalls of using sport as a tool for overcoming and mediating separation between people, nonstate actors, and states. The power of sport has never been more important. So far, the 21st century has been dominated by disintegration, introspection, and the retreat of the nation-state from the globalization agenda. In such an environment, scholars, students, and practitioners of international relations are beginning to rethink how sport might be used to tackle climate change, gender inequality, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, for example. To boost these integrative, positive efforts is to focus on the means as well as the ends, that is, the diplomacy, plural networks, and processes involved in the role sport can play in tackling the monumental traditional and human security challenges of our time.

Article

War Termination  

H.E. Goemans

War termination can be defined as the tacit or formal agreement and implementation of decisions to cease fighting on the battlefield. In older literature, scholars focused on the roles of the “winner” and the “loser,” and the endogeneity of the belligerents’ war aims. One group argues that war ends when the “loser” recognizes his position and accedes to the “winner’s” demands. A second group argues that war ends when the combatants agree to a settlement which both prefer over continued fighting. In other words, war is seen as a form of bargaining, where states make rational cost–benefit calculations about war and its termination. These scholars by and large contend that the belligerents’ war aims fluctuate during war, and that the terms of settlement may be very different from the combatants’ original aims. Few studies have highlighted the role of domestic politics. Central in this research is the recognition that the outcome of war and the terms of settlement will affect the domestic political balance of power, and will leave some groups and individuals as domestic political “losers” and others as “winners.” Ikle (1971), for example, argued that the question whether and on what terms to end a war will be particularly difficult to decide for the government that is losing the war. “Hawks”— those who want better terms and favor a continuation of the war—will face off against “Doves,” who would prefer to end the war and are willing to grant more generous terms.

Article

Habitus and Field  

Anna Leander

The terms habitus and field are useful heuristic devices for thinking about power relations in international studies. Habitus refers to a person’s taken-for-granted, unreflected—hence largely habitual—way of thinking and acting. The habitus is a “structuring structure” shaping understandings, attitudes, behavior, and the body. It is formed through the accumulated experience of people in different fields. Using fields to study the social world is to acknowledge that social life is highly differentiated. A field can be exceedingly varied in scope and scale. A family, a village, a market, an organization, or a profession may be conceptualized as a field provided it develops its own organizing logic around a stake at stake. Each field is marked by its own taken-for-granted understanding of the world, implicit and explicit rules of behavior, and valuation of what confers power onto someone: that is, what counts as “capital.” The analysis of power through the habitus/field makes it possible to transcend the distinctions between the material and the “ideational” as well as between the individual and the structural. Moreover, working with habitus/field in international studies problematizes the role played by central organizing divides, such as the inside/outside and the public/private; and can uncover politics not primarily structured by these divides. Developing research drawing on habitus/field in international studies will be worthwhile for international studies scholars wishing to raise and answer questions about symbolic power/violence.

Article

Race(ing) International Relations: A Critical Overview of Postcolonial Feminism in International Relations  

Geeta Chowdhry and L.H.M. Ling

Postcolonial feminism in international relations (PFIR) is a disciplinary field devoted to the study of world politics as a site of power relations shaped by colonization. PFIR combines postcolonial and feminist insights to explore questions such as how the stratum of elite power intersects with subterranean layers of colonization to produce our contemporary world politics; how these interrelationships between race, gender, sex, and class inform matrices of power in world politics; and how we account for elite and subaltern agency and resistance to the hegemonic sphere of world politics. PFIR is similar to Marxism, constructivism, and postmodernism in that they all posit that the masses underwrite hegemonic rule and, in so doing, ultimately have the means to do away with it. One difference is that PFIR emanates from the position of the subaltern; more specifically, the colonized’s colonized such as women, children, the illiterate, the poor, the landless, and the voiceless. Three major components are involved in PFIR in its analysis of world politics: culture, politics, and material structures. Also, eight common foci emerge in PFIR: intersectionality, representation, and power; materiality; relationality; multiplicity; intersubjectivity; contrapuntality; complicity; and resistance and accountability. PFIR gives rise to two interrelated projects: an empirical inquiry into the construction and exercise of power in daily life, and theory building that reflects this empirical base. A future challenge for PFIR is to elucidate how we can transform, not just alleviate, the hegemonies that persist around the world.

Article

Air Power  

Karl P. Mueller

Air power refers to the use of aviation by nations and other political actors in the pursuit of power and security interests, along with the use of long-range missiles. Since armies and navies first began to experiment with the use of airplanes as implements of war, air power has emerged as an integral component of modern warfare. Air power was born in the crucible of World War I, but came of age in the conflagration of World War II. The developmental history of air power is significant to security studies in general and to the study of air power in particular. Owing to the rapid series of state changes in air power, trying to understand the nature of air power and its effects on modern warfare and international security has become more complicated. Two questions that are central to the study of international security are whether air power facilitates offense as a whole and whether it encourages aggression as a result. There has also been a debate over the issue of how air power can most effectively be used to coerce an enemy through strategic bombing. Another source of disagreement is the question of whether air and space power constitute one subject or two. In general, there are compelling merits in treating space power as a domain of national security theory and policy separate from those of land, sea, and air power.

Article

Consociationalism, Power Sharing, and Politics at the Center  

Stefan Wolff

For more than four decades, advocates of consociationalism and their opponents have been engaged in a debate over about how to design institutions to achieve sustainable peace in divided societies. In general, existing theories acknowledge the importance and usefulness of institutional design in conflict resolution, but offer rather different prescriptions as to the most appropriate models to achieve stable conflict settlements. Three such theories are of particular significance: power sharing in the form of its liberal consociational variant, centripetalism, and power dividing. Consociationalism, centripetalism, and power dividing offer a range of distinct prescriptions on how to ensure that differences of identity do not translate into violence. They often go beyond “politics at the center” and also provide arguments on territorial dimensions of ethnic conflict settlement. Practitioners of conflict resolution recognize the need to combine a range of different mechanisms, giving rise to an emerging practice of conflict settlement known as “complex power sharing.” None of the three theories of conflict resolution fully captures this current practice of complex power sharing, even as liberal consociationalism appears to be the most open to incorporation of elements of centripetalism and power dividing. A theory of complex power sharing would need to explain why there is empirical support for a greater mix of institutions than existing theories recommend.

Article

Territorial and Institutional Settlements in the Global South and Beyond  

Allison McCulloch and Eduardo Wassim Aboultaif

Territorial and institutional settlements—from federalism and regional autonomy to consociationalism, centripetalism, and other forms of power-sharing—represent leading strategies by which to end protracted ethnicized conflicts. Yet there remains considerable debate as to the long-term merits of such approaches. Does consociationalism entrench divisions and immobilize government decision-making? Is federalism merely a precursor to secession? Or are territorial and institutional settlements the best prospect by which to deliver peace, democracy, and stability to deeply divided societies? The debate remains unsettled. Two main iterations of the debate regarding institutional design choices in divided societies in the Global South can be identified: one—accommodation versus integration—tends to present the options in zero-sum terms. In these earlier stages of the debate, consociationalism and centripetalism are frequently cast as opposing and irreconcilable forms of government in deeply divided societies (e.g., consociationalism versus centripetalism). Later scholarship tracks a different approach. In the second iteration—what can be labeled the turn to hybridity—scholars have shifted toward emphasizing their compatibility (e.g., consociationalism and centripetalism) or charting a path between them (consociationalism, then centripetalism). Beyond scholarly debates, institutional and territorial settlements in the Global South, including from across Latin and South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, exhibit a wide variety of forms and manifestations, some of which support accommodation while others tend toward integration.

Article

Poststructuralism and Postmodernism in International Relations  

Aslı Çalkıvik

Poststructural/postmodern international relations (IR) is a mode of critical thinking and analysis that joined disciplinary conversations during the 1980s and, despite the dismissive reception it has initially faced, it is a vibrant and expanding area of research within the field today. Providing a radical critique of politics in modernity, it is less a new paradigm or theory. Instead, it is better described as “a critical attitude” that focuses on the question of representation and explores the ways in which dominant framings of world politics produce and reproduce relations of power: how they legitimate certain forms of action while marginalizing other ways of being, thinking, and acting. To elaborate the insights of poststructuralism/postmodernism, the article starts off by situating the emergence of these critical perspectives within the disciplinary context and visits the debates and controversies it has elicited. This discussion is followed by an elaboration of the major themes and concepts of poststructural/postmodern thought such as subjectivity, language, text, and power. The convergences and divergences between poststructuralism and its precursor—structuralism—is an underlying theme that is noted in this article. The third and fourth sections make central the epistemological and ontological challenges that poststructuralism/postmodernism poses to disciplinary knowledge production on world politics. While the former focuses on how central categories of IR such as state and sovereignty, violence, and war were problematized and reconceptualized, the latter attends to the poststructuralist/postmodern attempts to articulate a different political imaginary and develop an alternative conceptual language to think the international beyond the confines of the paradigm of sovereignty and the modern subject. The article concludes with a brief look at the future directions for poststructural/postmodern investigations.

Article

South African Foreign Policy  

Fritz Nganje and Odilile Ayodele

In its foreign policy posture and ambitions, post-apartheid South Africa is like no other country on the continent, having earned the reputation of punching above its weight. Upon rejoining the international community in the mid-1990s based on a new democratic and African identity, it laid out and invested considerable material and intellectual resources in pursuing a vision of the world that was consistent with the ideals and aspirations of the indigenous anti-apartheid movement. This translated into a commitment to foreground the ideals of human rights, democratic governance, and socioeconomic justice in its foreign relations, which had been reoriented away from their Western focus during the apartheid period, to give expression to post-apartheid South Africa’s new role conception as a champion of the marginalized interests for Africa and rest of the Global South. Since the start of the 21st century, this new foreign policy orientation and its underlying principles have passed through various gradations, reflecting not only the personal idiosyncrasies of successive presidents but also changes in the domestic environment as well as lessons learned by the new crop of leaders in Pretoria, as they sought to navigate a complex and fluid continental and global environment. From a rather naive attempt to domesticate international politics by projecting its constitutional values onto the world stage during the presidency of Nelson Mandela, South Africa would be socialized into, and embrace gradually, the logic of realpolitik, even as it continued to espouse an ethical foreign policy, much to the chagrin of the detractors of the government of the African National Congress within and outside the country. With the fading away of the global liberal democratic consensus into which post-apartheid South Africa was born, coupled with a crumbling of the material and moral base that had at some point inspired a sense of South African exceptionalism, Pretoria’s irreversible march into an unashamedly pragmatic and interest-driven foreign policy posture is near complete.

Article

Systemic Theories of Conflict  

Karen A. Rasler and William R. Thompson

There are various approaches, both simple and complex, to systemic conflict. The simpler ones include balance of power, polarity, concentration, polarization, and democratization. More complex systemic approaches to conflict range from power transition and relative power cycle to leadership long cycle and world-systems. Some of these programs continue to generate scholarly interest and produce new findings, while others have been beset with little activity. Yet, none of these research programs have captured enough scholarly attention to be fully “mainstreamed.” That is, they have not been co-opted as central interpretations of international politics. The theoretical literature on simpler approaches to systemic conflict persists today but was more common prior to the mid-1970s. Since systemic analyses were not well developed in the first two or three decades after World War II, scholars grappled with what systemic analyses meant. One question is whether we should differentiate between a global system and its multiple regional subsystems. Complex systemic research programs have declined in analytical popularity after peaking in the 1980s, in large part because perceptions of the world situation changed in the 1990s. Whether “traditional” system dynamics will regain its lost status in light of the globalization processes perceived to be at work remains unclear, but there is cause for optimism about the future contributions of systemic theory as research programs in this area have expanded to include new topics and issues, along with new theoretical developments in other areas that will be pertinent to systemic perspectives.

Article

Great Power Leadership  

Wesley B. O'Dell

The notion that Great Powers fulfill a leadership role in international politics is old, influential, and contested. As the actors in the international system with the greatest capacity for taking action, Great Powers are assumed to think both further ahead and in broader, more systemic terms than other states; they then use their preeminent positions to organize others to promote public goods, reaping benefits along the way thanks to their direction of events. At the core of this understanding is the assumption that Great Power actions are, or ought to be, inspired by something more than simple self-interest and the pursuit of short-term gains. As an organic creation of international practice, Great Power leadership was traditionally the domain of historians and international legists; early students of the topic utilized inductive reasoning to derive general precepts of Great Power sociology from the landmark settlements of the 18th and 19th centuries. The framing of Great Powers as a leadership caste originated in the struggle against Louis XIV, was given tentative institutional form through settlements such as the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), and deepened considerably in both institutionalization and sophistication in the 19th century Concert of Europe. The return of France to full Great Power status, the Congress (1878) and Conference (1884) of Berlin, and the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion (1899–1901) all demonstrated the willingness and ability of the Powers to cooperate in the management of international change. In the early 20th century, the leadership of the Great Powers was both challenged as an unjust agent of catastrophe as well as increasingly formalized through recognition in new international institutions such as the League of Nations and the United Nations. Theorists of international relations began to formulate theories based on Great Power management at the time of the discipline’s beginnings in the early 20th century. Realists and liberals frequently utilize Great Power concepts to explain processes of equilibrium, hegemonic competition, and institution building, while approaches influenced by constructivism focus on the role of ideas, statuses, and roles in the formulation of Great Power identities and policies. The doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) is a 21st-century manifestation of the application of Great Power leadership to international problems; though hailed by some as the future of Great Power management, it provokes controversy among both theorists and practitioners. Similarly, extensive scholarly attention has been devoted to the management and accommodation of “rising powers.” These are states that appear likely to obtain the status of Great Power, and there is extensive debate over their orientation toward and potential management of international order. Finally, the position of Russia and China within this literature has provoked deep reflection on the nature of Great Power, the responsibilities of rising and established powers, and the place of Great Power management amidst the globalized challenges of the 21st century.

Article

Sea Power  

Eric Grove

“Sea power” refers to the power exerted by a state through its capacity to use the sea for both military and civilian purposes. The ability to use the seas for transport and other civilian purposes such as fishing and, more recently, exploitation of resources on or under the sea bed has generated considerable debate. This has resulted in the notion that military power deployed at or from the sea is the key component of a state’s sea power. It was Alfred Thayer Mahan who first coined the term “sea power.” In his 1980 book “Influence,” Mahan outlined six “principal conditions affecting the sea power of nations”: geographical position, physical conformation, extent of territory, number of population, national character, and character of government. After Mahan, other writers advanced a variety of ideas regarding the concept of sea power, including Philip Colomb, who emphasized the importance of “command of the sea”; Sir Julian Corbett, who discussed the importance of maritime “lines of passage and communication” as “the preoccupation of naval strategy,” and control of such lines as the essence of “command of the sea”; and Sir Herbert Richmond, whose definition of sea power can be summed up as the “power to control movements at sea.” Others who have contributed to the scholarly literature on sea power include Raoul Castex, Bernard Brodie, Stephen Roskill, Sir Peter Gretton, Sir James Cable, Sergei G. Gorshkov, Paul Kennedy, Ken Booth, Richard Hill, and Geoffrey Till.

Article

Development Financing in Latin America  

Leondard E. Stanley and Ernesto Vivares

Development finance (DF) schemes in Latin America have shifted from neoliberal and conservative to neo-developmentalist and populist approaches with no effect on political, economic, social, and environmental circumstances. Regardless of the political-ideological bias of the ruling coalition, critical problems related to the contradictions imposed by the global insertion model have remained the same. The dynamics of ideas, institutions, and actors illustrate the DF network of power and legitimacy. The governance of DF is a contested historical process in which opposite ideas about development, supported by antagonistic groups, confront the political-economic orientations. Different governances are institutional devices that reflect diverse development ideas and specific political-economic settings. Regardless of the model, a generalized crisis questions financial globalization and advises a rethinking of the financing schemes.

Article

Nonviolent Struggle  

Stephen Zunes, Hardy Merriman, and Maria J. Stephan

Recent decades have witnessed a dramatic upsurge in the use of strategic nonviolent action as a method of political struggle worldwide, pressing governments and other institutions to change policies and even successfully ousting autocratic regimes. This has led to a growth in scholarly research on the history and dynamics of such popular civil resistance movements, along with growing empirical evidence indicating that nonviolent means are generally effective than armed resistance. Such nonviolent civil resistance is distinguished from pacifism in that it is not predicated on a principled commitment to nonviolence but out of recognition that it is the most effective means of popular struggle under the particular circumstances. Some theorists of nonviolent action advocate a more pluralistic model of power than found in traditional political science literature, emphasizing the withdrawal of consent, while others emphasize a structural analysis whereby the civil resistance targets pillars of support of a regime or other power holders. There are hundreds of methods of nonviolent resistance, which can be utilized in different circumstances and in varying phases of a struggle, which tend to result in higher levels of popular mobilization and defections by security forces and other regime supporters than armed methods.

Article

Civil Resistance  

Hardy Merriman

Civil resistance is a way for people—often those who have no special status or privilege—to wield power without the threat or use of violence. It consists of a range of acts of protests (e.g., mass demonstrations); noncooperation (e.g., strikes, boycotts); intervention (e.g., blockades, mass demonstrations); and the development of new relationships, behavior patterns, and organizations (e.g., alternative institutions). Diverse people from societies worldwide have engaged in civil resistance for millennia. Individuals can initiate acts of civil resistance spontaneously, and many have done so at some point in their lives, for example, by defying or reducing their cooperation with institutional policies as students or employees. However, the study of this field has focused on collective acts of civil resistance through popular movements and campaigns that are organized to achieve shared goals and involve some degree of strategic planning. While civil resistance can be used to advance an array of causes, much of the research has focused on efforts within societies to overcome authoritarian rule and advance democratic change. Scholarship in the field has developed at an accelerating pace in the early 21st century, as civil resistance becomes increasingly recognized as a powerful driver of political change and democratic development worldwide. The field concerns itself with a range of questions, including: How do ordinary people self-organize against powerful and oppressive adversaries? What is the interplay of structure and agency in determining the emergence and trajectories of civil resistance movements? What kinds of strategies increase a movement’s prospects of success? What counter-strategies are most effectively employed against movements? How do movements manage the repression used against them? What is the success rate of civil resistance movements compared to violent insurgencies? What kinds of long-term impacts do civil resistance movements have on societies? How is civil resistance effectively employed for a range of different causes? What is the relationship between civil resistance and other forms of addressing conflict such as electoral politics, negotiations, and peacebuilding? Why and how do civil resistance movements induce defections among their adversary’s supporters? How should international law regard civil resistance movements? What role can external actors play in supporting or inhibiting such movements?

Article

Feminist Contributions and Challenges to Peace Studies  

Catia Cecilia Confortini

Many women across the world have addressed issues of peace and war since antiquity, from Christine de Pizan and Jane Addams to Betty Reardon and Elise Boulding. Although a few feminist scholars in the social sciences consider themselves “peace studies” (PS) scholars, other feminists contribute to PS by tackling peace and violence issues. PS comprises peace research, peace education, and peace activism. Feminists improve on and challenge these fields by insisting on expanded definitions of peace that suggest continuity between different forms of violence; highlighting the diverse roles played by women and other marginalized groups in violent conflicts and in peace processes; complicating our understanding of peace and violence while foregrounding gender as a social and symbolic construct involving relations of power; and proposing transformative ways of conceptualizing peace, war, and postconflict transitions. By seeing all forms of violence along a continuum, feminists transform PS’ understandings of peace. Furthermore, feminism brings women to the center of PS by making them visible as actors in both peace and conflict. Finally, feminism envisions a peaceful future that take into consideration women, other marginalized people, and gender. A number of themes continue to emerge from feminist engagement with PS, such as forgiveness, reconciliation, and transitional justice—themes situated at the intersection of peace/violence and religion.

Article

Regime Theory  

Benjamin Meiches and Raymond Hopkins

The term “international regime” was originally used to describe formal agreements between states, but the concept has since evolved after going through considerable critique and reformulation. A universal agreement on the precise nature or elements of a regime has remained elusive, despite a general consensus on the definition. Nevertheless, the concept of regime offers a unique opportunity to better understand international relationships by underscoring the importance of specific attributes of international, multinational, and nongovernmental groups, sets of behavioral or epistemic practices, and processes of learning. As a heuristic device, regime theory helps to explain the rise of complex interaction between states, organizations, corporations, and other institutions as well as the potential for ideas or behavior to shape the international system. Regime theory has supplemented traditional explanations of international order, including hegemonic stability theory or neorealism, by explaining the emergence of cooperation and organization within what would traditionally be considered anarchical or highly unpredictable conditions. Common approaches to regime theory include realism, neoliberalism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Part of the strength of regime theory is that it has remained an elastic concept and has been used to analyze a huge diversity of issues, with many promising results. Regime theory should continue highlighting both the ideational and material dimensions of organization and bringing together positivist, inductive, and critical approaches to understanding power, interest, and identity so as to generate a series of new conversations or trajectories for exploring the creation of international order.