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Princeton University Press
Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture

Legitimacy and Power Politics: The American and French Revolutions in International Political Culture

by Mlada Bukovansky
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This book examines the causes and consequences of a major transformation in both domestic and international politics: the shift from dynastically legitimated monarchical sovereignty to popularly legitimated national sovereignty. It analyzes the impact of Enlightenment discourse on politics in eighteenth-century Europe and the United States, showing how that discourse facilitated new authority struggles in Old Regime Europe, shaped the American and French Revolutions, and influenced the relationships between the revolutionary regimes and the international system.

The interaction between traditional and democratic ideas of legitimacy transformed the international system by the early nineteenth century, when people began to take for granted the desirability of equality, individual rights, and restraint of power. Using an interpretive, historically sensitive approach to international relations, the author considers the complex interplay between elite discourses about political legitimacy and strategic power struggles within and among states. She shows how culture, power, and interests interacted to produce a crucial yet poorly understood case of international change.

The book not only shows the limits of liberal and realist theories of international relations, but also demonstrates how aspects of these theories can be integrated with insights derived from a constructivist perspective that takes culture and legitimacy seriously. The author finds that cultural contests over the terms of political legitimacy constitute one of the central mechanisms by which the character of sovereignty is transformed in the international system—a conclusion as true today as it was in the eighteenth century.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691146706
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 01/10/2010
Series: Princeton Studies in International History and Politics , #114
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 769,732
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mlada Bukovansky is Assistant Professor of Government at Smith College.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Chapter One: Introduction: The Transformation of Legitimacy 1
Explaining the Transformation
International Political Culture
Plan of the Book
Chapter Two: International Political Culture and Systemic Change 15
The Cultural Dimensions of International Politics
Interplay between Culture and Strategy
Chapter Three: Old Regime Political Culture 61
International Relations: Strategic Overview
The Political Culture of Old Regime Europe
Cultural Complementarities: Enlightenment and Monarchy
Cultural Contradictions in the Old European Order
Chapter Four: The American Revolution 110
Political Economy
Cosmopolitanism versus Nationalism in American Foreign Policy
Chapter Five: The French Revolution 165
The Collapse of the Ancien Régime
Revolution and War
Chapter Six: Conclusion: Fractured Hegemony and the Seeds of Change 211
Political Culture and Systemic Change
Bibliography 235
Index 247

What People are Saying About This

Martha Finnemore

Legitimacy and Power Politics makes an important and original set of arguments that speak directly to some of the most central debates in international relations theory.
Martha Finnemore, George Washington University

Joyce Appleby

Mlada Bukovansky has written a powerful study, arguing a bold and compelling theory with clarity and confidence.
Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles

From the Publisher

"Mlada Bukovansky has written a powerful study, arguing a bold and compelling theory with clarity and confidence."—Joyce Appleby, University of California, Los Angeles

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