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From International to World Society?

From International to World Society?
English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalisation


Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Author: Barry Buzan, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Date Published: February 2004
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521541213

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About the Authors
  • In this 2004 book, Barry Buzan offers an extensive critique and reappraisal of the English school approach to International Relations. Starting on the neglected concept of world society and bringing together the international society tradition and the Wendtian mode of constructivism, Buzan offers a new theoretical framework that can be used to address globalisation as a complex political interplay among state and non-state actors. This approach forces English school theory to confront neglected questions about both its basic concepts and assumptions, and about the constitution of society in terms of what values are shared, how and why they are shared, and by whom. Buzan highlights the idea of primary institutions as the central contribution of English school theory and shows how this both differentiates English school theory from realism and neoliberal institutionalism, and how it can be used to generate distinctive comparative and historical accounts of international society.

    • A major and long overdue critique and reappraisal of English school theory
    • Highlights the idea of primary institutions as the central contribution of English school theory
    • There is growing interest in the English school as one of the main approaches to the study of IR
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This book represents an attempt to rethink and redevelop the English School project as a coherent research program. Although it builds on the basic assumptions and premises that underlie the English School framework, it greatly expands the scope of the project and rethinks many of the fundamental issues and tensions. It actively engages with much of American social science and sociological literatures, makes some very nice links to American constructivist scholarship, and offers some excellent ways to improve the Wendtian approach. I view the manuscript as the most important English School work in a generation.' Bruce Cronin, City College of New York

    'The domain of world society has for some time been a neglected dimension in English School theorizing. Barry Buzan's book has not only filled this gap, it has radically reconfigured the relationship between international system, international society and world society. The result is a formidable work of grand theory. At last we have a work in the English School which is analytically rigorous enough to meet the high standards set by the best recent American IR theory while at the same time remaining faithful to the richness of the original sociological institutionalism.' Tim Dunne, University of Exeter

    'From International to World Society? is the most important contribution to the English School's grand theory for a decade … there is no doubt that the volume makes an important and ground-breaking contribution to both English School theory and International Relations theory more broadly … if it is read as Buzan intends, as an opening rather than an ending, there is no doubt that this volume makes an important and ground-breaking contribution to both English School theory and International Relations theory more broadly.' Alex J. Bellamy, International Affairs

    '… an impressively detailed taxonomical reworking of the conceptual apparatus of EST, articulated with elaborate precision. … powerful and convincing'. Political Studies Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2004
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521541213
    • length: 320 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.47kg
    • contains: 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. English school theory and its problems: an overview
    2. World society in English school theory
    3. Concepts of world society outside the English school
    4. Reimagining the English school's triad
    5. Reconstructing the pluralist-solidarist debate
    6. The primary institutions of international society
    7. Bringing geography back in
    8. Conclusions: a portrait of contemporary interstate society.

  • Author

    Barry Buzan, London School of Economics and Political Science
    Barry Buzan is Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and a Fellow of the British Academy. He is the author, co-author or editor of over fifteen books and has published widely in academic journals.

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