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World Ordering
A Social Theory of Cognitive Evolution

$38.99 (P)

Part of Cambridge Studies in International Relations

  • Date Published: March 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108412674

$ 38.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Drawing on evolutionary epistemology, process ontology, and a social-cognition approach, this book suggests cognitive evolution, an evolutionary-constructivist social and normative theory of change and stability of international social orders. It argues that practices and their background knowledge survive preferentially, communities of practice serve as their vehicle, and social orders evolve. As an evolutionary theory of world ordering, which does not borrow from the natural sciences, it explains why certain configurations of practices organize and govern social orders epistemically and normatively, and why and how these configurations evolve from one social order to another. Suggesting a multiple and overlapping international social orders' approach, the book uses three running cases of contested orders - Europe's contemporary social order, the cyberspace order, and the corporate order - to illustrate the theory. Based on the concepts of common humanity and epistemological security, the author also submits a normative theory of better practices and of bounded progress.

    • Proposes a new social theory of change
    • Illustrated with three case studies: Europe's contemporary social order, the cyberspace order, and the corporate order
    • Will interest students and scholars of international relations and of sociological approaches to international politics and social change
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    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘In this long-awaited, stunning book Emanuel Adler articulates his theory of cognitive evolution, expanding and deepening theoretical insights he has developed over a life-time of path-breaking scholarship. Its jacket should scream ‘must-read'.' Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr, Professor of International Studies Cornell University, New York

    ‘Emanuel Adler has written a work of extraordinary range and ambition. To say that it contributes to ‘grand theory' in international relations tells only part of the story. His evolutionary-constructivist theory offers a new and challenging way to think about stability and change in many kinds of social order. This book will stimulate constructive debate both within and beyond international relations.' Charles R. Beitz, Princeton University, New Jersey

    'Emanuel Adler’s theory of world order constitutes a unique and bold intellectual contribution. By addressing constructivist meta-theorising on a par with constitutive evolutionary theorising of world ordering, explanatory theorising of how such social orders evolve and normative theorising about the nature of better orders, his book shows in practice how our different modes of theorising need to be thought in parallel. Out of this reflection, Adler’s framework combines practice and evolutionary theory that puts into motion a reconfigured understanding of communities of practice in their making of world order. Confronted with a fragmentation of theory and world order alike, the discipline of international relations has seen a return to grand theory of a more sophisticated kind. For all trying to ‘think through’ this fragmentation, Adler’s book provides an indispensable intervention.' Stefano Guzzini, Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Uppsala universitet, Sweden

    'A truly ambitious and innovative work that challenges dominant modes of theorizing international relations.' John Gerard Ruggie, Harvard University

    ‘Over the past three decades, Emanuel Adler has built up a weighty résumé of sophisticated contributions to debates about meta-theory and world order. World Ordering: A Social Theory of Cognitive Evolution both builds on and extends this oeuvre. It is a landmark achievement, one that will be ranked alongside, and may supersede, previous statements by Ernst Haas, Alexander Wendt, and others. World Ordering is, by any standard, a major accomplishment. The book is theoretically fertile, analytically insightful and compellingly argued. It is also a work of considerable ambition, rigour and sophistication. In his endorsement, Peter Katzenstein writes that its jacket ‘should scream must read’. Quite so.' George Lawson, International Sociology

    'World ordering is a must-read and a major step in IR theorizing. It opens the latter to a flexible, processual social ontology, as well as to evolutionary theory.' International Affairs

    'With World Ordering, Adler has thus placed a solid foundation upon which scholarship on practice(s) and social order(s) can build and, relying on both creative variation and selective retention, strive toward a better understanding of social reality.' International Studies Review

    'Adler’s social theory of cognitive evolution offers a novel way to look at the role played by practices in world-ordering processes.' Canadian Journal of Political Science

    'Emanuel Adler has been thinking about cognitive evolution, collective meaning, and social construction for a very long time. This book represents a major statement of his mature views, a kind of theoretical summation of decades of scholarship.' Perspectives on Politics

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    Product details

    • Date Published: March 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108412674
    • length: 394 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue. The crux of the matter
    Part I. Social Constructivism as Cognitive Evolution:
    1. Samurai crabs and international social orders
    2. Evolutionary ontology: from being to becoming
    3. Evolutionary epistemology
    4. Practices, background knowledge, communities of practice, social orders
    Part II. Cognitive Evolution Theory and International Social Orders:
    5. International social orders
    6. Cognitive evolution theory: social mechanisms and processes
    7. Agential social mechanisms
    8. Creative variation
    9. Selective retention
    10. Better practices and bounded progress
    Epilogue: world ordering.

  • Author

    Emanuel Adler, University of Toronto
    Emanuel Adler is the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Chair of Israeli Studies and Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto, and Honorary Professor at the University of Copenhagen. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the European Academy of Sciences. His publications include Security Communities (co-edited with Michael Barnett, Cambridge, 1998) and International Practices (co-edited with Vincent Pouliot, Cambridge, 2011).

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