Emergent Actors in World Politics: How States and Nations Develop and Dissolve

Emergent Actors in World Politics: How States and Nations Develop and Dissolve

by Lars-Erik Cederman


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Emergent Actors in World Politics: How States and Nations Develop and Dissolve by Lars-Erik Cederman

The disappearance and formation of states and nations after the end of the Cold War have proved puzzling to both theorists and policymakers. Lars-Erik Cederman argues that this lack of conceptual preparation stems from two tendencies in conventional theorizing. First, the dominant focus on cohesive nation-states as the only actors of world politics obscures crucial differences between the state and the nation. Second, traditional theory usually treats these units as fixed. Cederman offers a fresh way of analyzing world politics: complex adaptive systems modeling. He provides a new series of models—not ones that rely on rational-choice, but rather computerized thought-experiments—that separate the state from the nation and incorporate these as emergent rather than preconceived actors. This theory of the emergent actor shifts attention away from the exclusively behavioral focus of conventional international relations theory toward a truly dynamic perspective that treats the actors of world politics as dependent rather than independent variables.

Cederman illustrates that while structural realist predictions about unit-level invariance hold up under certain circumstances, they are heavily dependent on fierce power competition, which can result in unipolarity instead of the balance of power. He provides a thorough examination of the processes of nationalist mobilization and coordination in multi-ethnic states. Cederman states that such states' efforts to instill loyalty in their ethnically diverse populations may backfire, and that, moreover, if the revolutionary movement is culturally split, its identity becomes more inclusive as the power gap in the imperial center's favor increases.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691021492
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/07/1997
Series: Princeton Studies in Complexity Series
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 6.33(w) x 9.58(h) x 0.89(d)

About the Author

Lars-Erik Cederman is University Lecturer in International Relations at Somerville College, University of Oxford. He has written for such publications as International Organization, International Studies Quarterly, and European Journal of International Relations.

Table of Contents

List of Tables
List of Figures
Ch. 1Introduction3
Ch. 2Modeling Actors in World Politics14
Ch. 3Toward Richer Models37
Ch. 4Emergent Polarity72
Ch. 5Extending the Emergent Polarity Model109
Ch. 6Modeling Nationalism136
Ch. 7Nationalist Mobilization151
Ch. 8Nationalist Coordination184
Ch. 9Conclusions for Theory and Policy213

What People are Saying About This


This is an impressive and very original work, which takes up some of the most important and timely issues in the study of international relations and the emergence of nations and states. It opens up a very promising avenue for theoretical development by proposing a fresh solution to some of the basic epistemological problems of traditional positivistic studies of international relations.
Jack L. Snyder, Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

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