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The end of the Cold War, the emergence of nonWestern states as influential actors in global politics, and waves of Western nativism in the United States and Europe have placed questions of cultural diversity centrally in global politics. Although the mainstream paradigms of international relations (IR), namely, realism and liberalism, have remained focused on material power and mutual gains via institutions as the cruxes of global politics, starting with the mid-1990s, an increasing number of IR scholars have attended to the question of cultural diversity and world politics. This scholarship has approached culture, alternatively, as a set of shared meanings stable over time, meanings that are institutionally stabilized, or a field of multiple and competing representations. Accordingly, some (the English school, conventional constructivism) posit culture as internally coherent and externally diverse, associating shared culture with accord and cultural diversity with discord. Others (critical constructivism, postcolonial IR) focus on the power-laden processes through which cultural diversity comes to be associated with Otherness and discord. Most of the relevant scholarship, however, defies paradigmatic categorization. These works are better grouped as interventions into IR theory and as scholarship that focuses on the impact of cultural diversity on the conduct of world politics. The first set of interventions have identified the state of cultural diversity in IR theorizing as an absence, a deep suspicion and an active suppression, or an outdated conceptualization. The IR theoretical path forward has, accordingly, been identified as the inclusion of culture, as dispensing with key theoretical heuristics of the field, or as a new focus on how cultural diversity has been globally governed. The analyses of cultural diversity and the conduct of world politics, taken together, show the intricate connections between existing institutions and norms, and assertions of cultural diversity. While diversity challenges universalizing forms of governance, the demands for the equal recognition of diversity are shaped by existing institutions. Despite key theoretical and analytical insights, the scholarship on cultural diversity can pay further attention to (a) the relation between theoretical notions of cultural diversity and cultural diversity as employed in global politics and (b) the relation between cultural diversity and other global political domains, such as geopolitics. On this, the literature can benefit from engagement with the IR scholarship on civilizations. At the same time, the latter scholarship is highly relevant to the question at hand because civilizations are key conduits of the global politics of cultural diversity.

Article

The English School of international relations theory has its own particular account of the history of international relations, a key aspect of which is the expansion of a set of norms, practices and institutions—diplomacy, embassies, international law, sovereignty, the modern state—out of their formative cultural heartland of Europe and to the rest of the world over the past few centuries. This is the story of “European international society” spreading out to become a “global international society,” accelerating especially during the 19th century via cultural imperialism and colonial conquest. The writings of the English School on this Expansion Narrative have evolved since the 1960s, going through phases of development that have concretized the details of the Narrative’s history, elaborated on the processes behind the spread, and attempted to inject more scientific rigor into analysis. Over time a more profound challenge has also emerged, in a revisionist shift from a monocentric story of Europe training the rest of the world in the proper ways of domestic and international life, toward a polycentric, globalization model, in which different civilizations have learned from each other to create a synthetic, multicultural international society by the 21st century. These analytic tensions are a source of creativity and innovation for the English School and set it apart from other approaches to international relations.

Article

Robert A. Denemark

World system history is a perspective on the global sociopolitical and economic system with a structural, long-term and transdisciplinary nature. The intellectual origins of the study of world system history can be characterized by three general trajectories, beginning with the work of global historians who have worked to write a “history of the world.” Attempts were also made by scholars such as Arnold Toynbee to write global history in terms of “civilizations”. A second pillar of world system history emerged from anthropology, when many historians of the ancient world, anthropologists, and archaeologists denied the importance of long-distance relations, especially those of trade. A third pillar emerged from the social sciences, including political science and sociology. One of the central ideas put forward was that sociopolitical and economic phenomena exhibited wave-like behavior. These various intellectual strands became self-consciously intertwined in the later 1980s and 1990s, when scholars from all of these traditions began to cross disciplinary boundaries and organize their own efforts under the rubric of world system history. This period saw Gunder Frank and Barry K. Gills questioning the value of identifying a uniquely modern system based on a transition to capitalism that was said to have occurred in the West. Frank and Gills introduced the “continuity hypothesis,” which suggests that too much scholarly emphasis has been placed on the search for and elucidation of discontinuities and transitions. World system history faces two important challenges from determinism and indeterminacy, and future research should especially address the implications of the latter.

Article

Nonrealist variables (NRV) in the study of International Relations (IR) encompass the nonmaterial causal and consequential phenomena linked to interstate relations, central to which are studies of identity and norms. The two primary dimensions of the research agenda on identity are social interaction and culture. The study of social interaction considers the origins and dynamism of agency, the interests that flow from identity, and the manner in which identity influences issues such as security, allegiance, and empathy. On the other hand, research examining identity through the lens of culture reflects two distinct subinquiries: civilizational conflict, which is concerned with the impact of national culture on interstate conflict; and strategic culture, which studies how domestic and military cultures influence security policy. Meanwhile, the role of norms as they pertain to the study of IR is subdivided into two general research agendas associated with two levels of analysis in the IR subfield: the international system level and the national level norms. The analysis of norms in the scientific study of international processes (SSIP) is stronger than identity. This is due to the long-term presence of norms in the study of IR in research agendas examining alliances, reciprocity, arms races, and deterrence. Ultimately, the agent-based modeling approach may provide a methodology for scholars in SSIP through which to study the emergence and impact of identity and norms on systems and subsystems in IR.

Article

David O. Wilkinson

The study of comparative civilization raises a variety of questions; for example, how “civilization” is related to “culture,” what criteria shall be used to distinguish one civilization from another, or whether the past of civilizations can tell us anything about the future of our global civilization. One way to approach these elements of the comparative-civilizational problematique is by analyzing the successive theses of notable workers in the field, from Herodotus of Halicarnassus and Marco Polo to Garcilaso Inca de la Vega, Ibn Khaldun, Giambattista Vico, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. The works of Hegel and four other scholars—Nikolai Danilevsky, Oswald Spengler, Arnold Toynbee, and Pitirim Sorokin—are considered classics in the study of macrosocial systems. More recent studies of macrosocial systems that deserve consideration are those by André Gunder Frank and Barry Gills; Christopher Chase-Dunn and Thomas Hall; Carroll Quigley; Matthew Melko; and Samuel P. Huntington. The “civilizations” and “world-systems” approaches to macrosocieties are both strongly concerned to explain political conditions like hegemony and rivalry, general war, and general peace. Thus, it would be useful to concentrate on the political–military–diplomatic foci of both approaches. A key to making comparative-civilizational research more systematic is to identify the spatio-temporal boundaries of civilizations as complex systems with particular locations in space and time.