Power and the Westphalian System: Goodbye to All That?
If Part 1 of our Editorial Plan looked at the structural changes the international system has undergone in the recent past, then Part 2 will examines how these changes are influencing power dynamics at the regional and transnational levels. However, to help bridge the gap between these two parts, we will first try and determine which characterizations of power best describe our world today. Addressing this issue at the outset is crucial if we are to determine whether traditional theories of power still have the explanatory weight they once did. (Indeed, as the locus of power continues to shift to the individual, there are those who argue that Westphalian notions of state sovereignty and ‘power over’ others are becoming increasingly passé and redundant.)
To help us all draw our own conclusions, we begin this week by analyzing the health and status of the two most enduring theories of power – realism and liberalism. From there, we consider the constructivist argument that power is not a natural phenomenon but is, instead, socially constructed and reproduced. We then chart the evolution of Marxist ideas of 'structural power' from the local to the international level and analyze how they explain 'hegemony' in the international system after 1945. Finally, we end our week-long meditation by focusing on post-structuralist conceptions of power. At first glance, the post-structuralist argument that ‘power is everywhere’ appears to resonate with our belief that power is becoming more diffused, democratized and individualized.
02 Apr 2012 / Audio
Peter Faber considers whether traditional conceptions of power offer an adequate explanation for the changes shaping our world. More on «Power and the Westphalian System: Goodbye to All That»
03 Apr 2012 / Audio
Stefano Guzzini discusses the constructivist view of power, using the examples of 'rising' China, 'posturing' Russia and 'bluffing' France. Dr Guzzini is a professor of government at Uppsala University and a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies. More on «The Social Construction of Power Politics»
04 Apr 2012 / Special Feature
For Marxists, power is structural rather than individual and operates through material, cultural and intellectual 'hegemony.' More on «Power – A Natural Phenomenon or a Form of Hegemony?»
05 Apr 2012 / Special Feature
For post-structuralists, power is everywhere; it operates at the level of the individual, through language and through 'truth' itself. More on «Power as Truth – Unmasking the Relationship »
28 Dec 2012 / Audio
As power becomes more diffused, democratized and individualized, the Westphalian state system has come under increased stress. Today, Luis Lobo-Guerrero discusses an alternative way to approach power and security – the "biopolitical" one. More on «A Case Study – The Biopolitics of Security »