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Reconceiving the balance of power: a review essay


Richard Little's new book has considerably widened the scope for thinking about the balance of power in International Relations (IR), both by beginning to provide a conceptual history of the idea and by expanding existing balance-of-power models. His concept of the associational balance of power is an important corrective to the prevailing realist understanding of the balance of power. However, Little does not explore more fully the relationship between the balance of power as a myth and a reality. Moreover, the usefulness of distinction between adversarial and association balance of power is not given a direct evaluation against the historical record, nor is his own composite model of the balance of power partly based on the distinction fully developed.

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Stuart J. Kaufman , Richard Little , and William C. Wohlforth (eds), The Balance of Power in World History (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007)

Michael Sheehan , The Balance of Power: History & Theory (London: Routledge, 1996)

Robert Gilpin , War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 13

Steven Lukes discusses this kind of power in his Power: A Radical View, 2nd edition (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005)

Robert Gilpin , War and Change in World Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)

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Review of International Studies
  • ISSN: 0260-2105
  • EISSN: 1469-9044
  • URL: /core/journals/review-of-international-studies
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