Hierarchy in International Relations

Hierarchy in International Relations

by David A. Lake
     
 

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International relations are generally understood as a realm of anarchy in which countries lack any superior authority and interact within a Hobbesian state of nature. In Hierarchy in International Relations, David A. Lake challenges this traditional view, demonstrating that states exercise authority over one another in international hierarchies that vary

Overview

International relations are generally understood as a realm of anarchy in which countries lack any superior authority and interact within a Hobbesian state of nature. In Hierarchy in International Relations, David A. Lake challenges this traditional view, demonstrating that states exercise authority over one another in international hierarchies that vary historically but are still pervasive today.

Revisiting the concepts of authority and sovereignty, Lake offers a novel view of international relations in which states form social contracts that bind both dominant and subordinate members. The resulting hierarchies have significant effects on the foreign policies of states as well as patterns of international conflict and cooperation. Focusing largely on U.S.-led hierarchies in the contemporary world, Lake provides a compelling account of the origins, functions, and limits of political order in the modern international system. The book is a model of clarity in theory, research design, and the use of evidence.

Motivated by concerns about the declining international legitimacy of the United States following the Iraq War, Hierarchy in International Relations offers a powerful analytic perspective that has important implications for understanding America's position in the world in the years ahead.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"In this pioneering work, Lake argues that hierarchical relations are best seen as bargained relationships in which the dominant state provides 'services'—such as order, security, and governance—to subordinate states in return for compliance. What distinguishes the various forms of hierarchy, from colonialism to modern alliances, is the amount of sovereignty signed over to the leading state. Lake uses this insight to explore patterns of U.S.-led hierarchy in the security and economic realms, relying on measures such as the presence of U.S. military bases, exchange-rate linkages, and trade dependence."—G. John Ikenberry, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2010

"David A. Lake effectively and convincingly argues that international politics is characterized not by anarchy, as the received wisdom and theory in the field hold, but rather by hierarchical relations among states. He develops the concept of relational hierarchy, by which a pair of states agree for one to accept the authority of the other to their mutual benefit, and applies it to understand the hierarchical relations created by the United States during and after the Cold War."—James D. Morrow, University of Michigan

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801477157
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
02/17/2011
Series:
Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

David A. Lake is Jerri-Ann and Gary E. Jacobs Professor of Social Sciences and Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of California, San Diego. He is the author of The Statebuilder's Dilemma: On the Limits of Foreign Intervention, Hierarchy in International Relations, and Power, Protection, and Free Trade: International Sources of U.S. Commercial Strategy, 1887–1939 and the coeditor of Politics in the New Hard Times: The Great Recession in Comparative Perspective and The State and American Foreign Economic Policy, all from Cornell.

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