What is International Relations?

George Lawson
IR100 - The structure of international society:
contemporary international society (week 3)
Lecture slides
Original citation:
Lawson, G. (2012) IR100 - The structure of international society: contemporary international society
(week 3). [Teaching Resource]
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IR100 Lecture 3 2011-12
George Lawson
The Traditional (Coxian) Agenda
 an anarchical system in which sovereign states are
concerned primarily with their own security
Westphalia: an intellectual ‘big bang’ – establishes norms of
‘sovereign territoriality’ and non-intervention
1919: a disciplinary ‘big bang’ – establishes a Western IR
enterprise concerned with the causes of war and the potential
for peace, i.e. the precariousness of order
 hierarchy vs. anarchy
 global modernity vs. Westphalia and 1919
Global Modernity
 Industrialization
 The modern state
 Ideologies of progress
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The Industrial Revolution
 Extension world market, e.g. global trade x25
 British power:
 20% of world’s industrial output 1890;
 FDI rises from $500 million 1825 to $19.5 billion 1914;
 colonization – Britain conquers 100,000 square
miles/year 1815-1865
 Migration:
 50 million Europeans emigrate 1800-1914
 37 million laborers leave India, China, Malaya, Java
The Modern State
 Permanent bureaucracies and militaries, e.g. state
personnel Prussia/Germany from 55,000-1 million,
 Infrastructure and communications, e.g. sending
messages from Britain to India
1830s: 6 months via sailing ship
1850s: 1 month via rail and steamship
1870s: 1 day via telegraph
1900s: simultaneous via telephone
The Invention of Progress
 Great international exhibitions, e.g. Philadelphia 1876
 Modern universities, e.g. LSE established 1895
 Academic disciplines, e.g. IR established … when?
 Ideologies
 Liberalism
 Socialism
 Racism
 Standards of civilization
Key points
 Interconnections drive historical development
 Relations between societies intensify
 Differences between societies magnify
 The result:
 a power shift from Asia to Europe/the west
 a power gap between states at the forefront of the great
transformation and those without industrialization,
modern statehood and ideologies of progress
 a core-periphery international order
A New Power Shift?
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The Liberal Ascendancy
 Modernity = Liberal
 Autocracies = Weak
 Liberalism binds states into systems of mutual
cooperation and mutual advantage
‘The liberal imagination is vast and the ideas and designs for
liberal international order are extraordinarily wide ranging.
At its most basic, liberal internationalism offers a vision of an
open, rule-based system in which states trade and cooperate
to achieve mutual gains.’
Hmmm. Maybe. But then again …
 Differences within liberalism, e.g. Europe vs. US
 The solution to the crisis of liberalism is … more
 The dark side of liberalism: inequality and violence
 Is Ikenberry right?
 Rise of BRICS
 Stability of authoritarian capitalism
 Shifting centre of gravity within world economy
Conclusion – decentred globalism
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