Taming the Sovereigns: Institutional Change in International Politics / Edition 1

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Kalevi Holsti inquires as to how we identify "change" in international politics and distinguish between significant and unimportant changes. Do we really live in a new era or simply see more continuity than transformation in international politics? Combining theoretical and empirical arguments, Holsti investigates eight major international institutions, including sovereignty, international law and territoriality, and speculates on their consequences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Holsti steps back from the rush of current events to consider more broadly how scholars think about and chart international change. From his baseline conception of a 'society of states' in which relations are regulated by Westphalian norms and institutions, he finds continuity and creeping complexity more than a sharp transformation toward a de-territorialized, borderless world." Foreign Affairs

"By Combining a lucid theoretical analysis with a wealth of empirical data, Holsti has provided an argument that scholars of international politics as well as students will find thought provoking." Perspectives on Political Science

"Holsti's book is an important addition to both the growing body of literature on the nature of international change and to the ongoing debate about the fate of the sovereign state." - Daniel Nexon, Georgetown University

Foreign Affairs
It is a cliche to say that the attacks of September 11 fundamentally changed international politics. But breathless announcements of "new eras," "epochal shifts," and "historic moments" occur all the time. In Taming the Sovereigns, Canadian scholar Holsti steps back from the rush of current events to consider more broadly how scholars think about and chart international change. His careful judgments, if not entirely surprising, are a useful counterpoint to the glib rhetoric of transformation. He identifies several basic types of change: quantitative shifts, such as growth in population or trade flows; increased complexity, such as in the rules and institutions of diplomacy; and the transformation of political actors themselves. Using this framework, he surveys long-term change in various aspects of world politics, including the state system, territoriality, sovereignty, international law, diplomacy, trade, and war. From his baseline conception of a "society of states" in which relations are regulated by Westphalian norms and institutions, he finds continuity and creeping complexity more than a sharp transformation toward a de-territorialized, borderless world. Others, however, might see the rise of U.S. unipolarity and the seeming end of great-power war as part of a more profound change.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521541923
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/29/2004
  • Series: Cambridge Studies in International Relations Series , #94
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Meet the Author

Kalevi J. Holsti is Research Associate at the Centre for International Relations and University Killam Professor, Political Science (Emeritus), at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The State, War, and the State of War (1995), Peace and War: Armed Conflicts and International Order, 1648-1989 (1991), Change in the International System (1991), The Dividing Discipline (1985), Why Nations Realign (1983) and International Politics: a Framework for Analysis (7 editions).

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Table of Contents

1. The problem of change in international relations: rhetoric, markers, and metrics; 2. The state as agent and institution; 3. Territoriality; 4. Sovereignty; 5. International law; 6. Diplomacy; 7. Trade; 8. Colonialism; 9. War; 10. International institutions: types, sources and consequences of change.

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