On Constructivist Analysis of the Concept of Power
Abstract: Rather than exploring once again what the concept of power can mean for constructivists, this article analyses what constructivism implies for doing a conceptual analysis; here, of power. It will try to show that besides an analytical assessment ('what does power mean'), a constructivist conceptual analysis includes a study of the performative aspects of concepts ('what does 'power' do'?), which, in turn is embedded into a conceptual history or genealogy (how has 'power' become to mean and able to do what it does?'). The analysis will show that a neutral or descriptive meaning of power cannot be found, since the meaning of power is always embedded in a theoretical context; hence conceptual and theoretical analysis interact with each other. It will further argue that attributing 'power' has the effect of 'politicising' issues, moving actions into the scrutiny of a public realm where justifications are needed. Finally, it sketches one hypothetical lineage for understanding the origins of these particular performative effects, which relates developments in German political theory to political realism in International Relations. At the same time, the article is meant to convey a more general point for the relationship between constructivist conceptual analysis and power: by stressing the reflexive relationship between knowledge and social reality, such a conceptual analysis is itself part (but only part!) of a more general constructivist power analysis.
On Competing Realist Conceptions of Power
Brian C. Schmidt
Abstract: Realists are the theorists of power politics. Although realists base their analysis of international politics on the role of power, there is a good deal of variation in how individual realist scholars conceptualise the concept. The article makes use of the important insight that rather than being monolithic, there actually are a number of different and competing realist theories. It closely examines how classical, structural, and modified realists understand and employ 'power' with the underlying aim to determine how each version of realism comprehends this elusive concept.
On Power, Persuasion, and Justice
Richard Ned Lebow
Abstract: Modern conceptions of power tend to emphasise the material basis of power, do not adequately distinguish between power and influence, and generally divorce the analysis and application of power from ethical considerations. The ancient Greeks were sensitive to the social basis of power, and how its exercise might strengthen or weaken the personal or communal bonds on which enduring influence rested. They distinguished between power exercised through persuasion, which strengthened those bonds, and power that relied on coercion, bribery and deceit, which weakened those bonds. Greek concepts, and the rich lexicon in which they are rooted, provide the basis for a critique of contemporary conceptions of power, discourse and American hegemony.
On Why 'Soft Power' Isn't So Soft
Janice Bially Mattern
Abstract: Soft power - the ability to achieve desired outcomes through attraction rather than coercion - has become an important part of scholarly thinking and policy practice with respect to world politics. And yet attraction, the core component of soft power, has been largely neglected in scholarly research. Research has been undertaken, policy suggestions offered, and ethical conclusions about soft power drawn all on the basis of implicit and often unacknowledged assumptions about attraction. As I argue here, this is problematic because neither of the most prominent assumptions - attraction as natural and attraction as constructed through persuasive argument - are feasible or logical in the context of world politics. In fact, as I argue, in the context of world politics it makes far more sense to model attraction as a relationship that is constructed through representational force - a nonphysical but nevertheless coercive form of power that is exercised through language. Insofar as attraction is sociolinguistically constructed through representational force, soft power should be not be understood in juxtaposition to hard power but as a continuation of it by different means. This analytic insight in turn demands some practical and normative reformulations about soft power.
On the Concept of 'Normative Power Europe'
Abstract: The European Union (EU) is widely seen as a novel kind of actor in international politics. This has been captured succinctly by Ian Manner's term 'normative power Europe'. This article reviews the literature on the concept of normative power and relates it to the earlier literature on civilian power. It argues that these concepts of power should be seen as part of the same discourse; a discourse which is not confined to the EU, but includes the cases of other great powers, such as the United States (US). The example of the US leads to a problematisation of 'normative power Europe' that does not focus on the discrepancy between rhetoric and concrete policies, or on the inconsistencies of EU policies, but on the political effects of the construction of the EU as a normative power; i.e., on the power of the 'normative power Europe' discourse. With illustrations drawn from the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Turkey-EU relations and the sanctions against Austria, I argue that this discourse establishes a particular identity for the EU through turning third parties into 'others' and representing the EU as a positive force in world politics. The article concludes with a call for more reflexivity in the representation of the EU as a normative power.
On Traversing the Realist-Post-modern Divide
Jennifer Sterling-Folker and Rosemary E. Shinko
Abstract: This article is about the analytical divide that separates realism and postmodernism in International Relations. Written by a realist (Sterling-Folker), and a postmodernist (Shinko), it seeks to traverse the divide between them through a discussion of how the perspective of each represents and makes sense of power. It does so within the context of an empirical case study: the China-Taiwan relationship. Comparing and contrasting how each perspective conceptualises power in its empirical practice and application forces both to grapple with the possibility of a simultaneity of stasis and change, and thus forces both to confront the relationship of constitutive structure and history in their own representations of the world. If our goal is to understand power and the discursive frames we choose to describe it, then the philosophical avenues obscured by the standard realist-postmodern divide are worth traversing.
On Bargaining Power in Multilateral Negotiations
Abstract: Realism and liberalism disagree over the source of bargaining power in international relations. Realists believe that the success of a negotiator is a linear function of the capabilities that its home state possesses. Liberals stress the crucial importance of either the relative salience a country attaches to a contested issue or the importance negotiating governments have to attribute to powerful domestic actors. In this essay, I clarify some of the channels through which these different facets of power influence multilateral negotiations. To examine the competing theoretical claims in international negotiations, I rely on the canonical contribution to the formal theory of bargaining, the Nash Bargaining Solution (NBS), as the unifying analytical framework. I distinguish several causal mechanisms through which varying forms of resources affect the negotiation outcomes. The formal analysis points out severe limitations of the thesis that different forms of bargaining power are fungible. Whether different facets of power can be substituted at all depends on how specific a channel is through which power is exerted. The empirical application uses the saliency approach as the baseline model and compares it with a realist capability and a liberalist domestic politics model. The analysis of the Uruguay round negotiations in the tourism sector shows that the realist bargaining model outperforms the domestic politics model. The saliency version of the NBS on which the competing models are based also fares relatively well in forecasting the concessions that 29 member states made in this policy realm.
On the Limits of British Currency Machismo
Abstract: This paper takes a constructivist approach to the power relations between state authority and international finance. It investigates the nature of 'symbolic power' (Pierre Bourdieu), a facet of power with the potential to direct authority-dependent international financial markets by imposing social meaning. I analyse British currency machismo during the 1992 ERM crisis to demonstrate the potential and limitations of symbolic power. British authorities exercised symbolic power to construct credibility for an unsustainable exchange rate commitment. Symbolic manipulation succeeded because intersubjective symbolic capital, the resource constituting symbolic power, is transposable. The reputation for robust, determined and inflexible leadership in the fight against inflation inherited by the Major administration from Thatcher's domestic monetarism was transposed to European exchange rate cooperation to beef up a commitment to defend sterling's ERM parity. However, the government found itself trapped in a 'symbolic dilemma': powerless to increase interest rates in defence of sterling, it had to escalate its macho rhetoric when markets started to lose faith. Currency machismo found its limits in a competing and symbolically more powerful vision of the situation: the suggestion by the German Bundesbank that sterling was overvalued.
On the Symbolic Power of Non-State Actors
Abstract: This article examines the power of non-state actors in transnational discourse. It sets out to construct an analytical framework for the study of power understood as effective social and linguistic practices based on immaterial capabilities. It will be argued that in the quest for adequate conceptualisations of the various non-material power resources NGOs dispose of, conventional behaviourist (realist) power theories are of limited use. They insufficiently take into account the role of language - as both a means for communication and as collectively shared meaning-structures - in the establishment and persistence of intersubjective power relations. Accordingly, discursive facets of power will be discussed, in particular their potential to shed light on the capabilities and strategies of NGOs to meaningfully participate in transnational communicative exchange. Turning to the empirical claim of the article - namely that the capital of NGOs resides in the discourses they represent and their abilities to promote these discourses within state-centred and statecreated frameworks for communicative interaction - it will be outlined how the various roles NGOs assume fit into a concept of international politics conceived of as a discursive economy. The article concludes with a brief discussion of various cases in which NGOs have been increasingly successful as discursive entrepreneurs in global policy-making.
On Power, Politics and Global Civil Society
Ronnie D. Lipschutz
Abstract: Although there remains considerable dispute about Global Civil Society (GCS) - whom or what it includes, whether it is international or truly global, and how it is constituted - there is no doubt that the agents, actors, organisations, and institutions of transnational social and economic exchange and action exist. But what is GCS? Is it a space or locus of sovereign agents, or merely a structural effect? Does it wield compulsory power or it is a mere epiphenomenon, a reflection of the state system? Is GCS an institutional phenomenon, the result of the exercise of power by other actors, or is it a productive phenomenon, constituted by the social roles and relations growing out of contemporary states and markets? In this article, I adopt a neo-Hegelian approach, and propose a dialectical relationship between developing modes of global political rule and the markets that it shapes and governs. I problematise GCS as a central and vital element in an expanding global neo-liberal regime of governmentality, which is constituted out of the social relations within that regime and which, to a large degree, serves to legitimise that regime.
On the Strength and Fragility of Global Business
Abstract: International Relations (IR) urgently needs theoretical development that takes into the account the power of non-state actors, in particular business. The present paper aims to prepare the ground for such theoretical development by analysing the political power of business along three dimensions: its instrumental, structural, and discursive power. The paper discusses the extent to which business's political power has grown in each of the dimensions. While the analysis indicates that the political power of business in general and corporate actors in particular has increased in certain areas, it also highlights limits and challenges to this power. Specifically, the paper argues that the 'commanding heights' to which business allegedly has climbed are built on shaky ground. This, in turn, implies the need for any IR theory that takes non-state actors into account to develop and include a new concept of vulnerability of political power.
On the Power of Private Military Companies
Abstract: This article suggests that the full significance of PMCs for international security is often missed because the concept of power framing these discussions is inadequate. The power to shape shared understandings of security is particularly neglected. The article argues that the emergence of PMCs has shifted the location of this power from the public/state to the private/market and, even more significantly, from the civil to the military sphere. The article reaches this conclusion in three steps. First, it suggests that PMCs have considerable power to shape the security agenda (Bacharach and Baratz). Second, it suggests that PMCs shape security understandings of key actors and hence their interests and preferences (Lukes's third dimension). These two facets highlight what I term the PMCs' epistemic power, located at the level of agency. Third, the article suggests that the action of PMCs have affected the field of security expertise, empowering a more military understanding of security which, in turn, empowers PMCs as particularly legitimate security experts. This third enlargement of the power concept highlights the 'structural power' of PMCs related to their position in the field of security (Bourdieu).
On Self and Other in the 9/11 Commission Report
Anna M. Agathangelou and L.H.M. Ling
Abstract: Analyses of 9/11 tend to narrowly punctuate understandings of Self vs Other. These mystify the power of politics in international relations, fixing us in locked cycles of dominance, retaliation, and indeed, anihilation. We explore an alternative method (poetry) derived from a dialectical epistemology (poisies) framed by a prismatic ontology (Worldism) to address the relations between Self and Other, and their implications for an emancipatory, transformative world politics. We focus on the 9/11 Commission Report as a starting point.
On the War Question in (Feminist) IR
Abstract: The war for art within the war for Iraq has gone nearly unnoticed in IR, much the way gender has long been neglected by IR analysts of war. One might say that IR has not yet formulated the gender question in war and is now likely to overlook the possibilities of an art question in IR, too. Feminist IR has no art question in war either, in part because feminists understudy war relative to other tranhistorical and transnational institutions, such as the family and religion. This article highlights these respective myopias and explores theoretical and methodological modes of refusing them. I propose to bring art into war thinking via a method associated with art making, the technique of collage; the article includes three imagined collages. Theoretical connections between art, war, gender, and IR build on the work of two feminist theorists - Ann Orford and Judith Butler - whose emphasis on sensory aspects of war dovetails with the empathetic co-operative tradition of feminist IR. The Iraq war contextualises the analysis and foregrounds interventionist war and its humanitarian claims. Throughout, the eye is repeatedly drawn to the power of art, the power of war, and the power latent in a variegated politics of mourning and touch.