Explaining the emergence of great power concerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-348
Number of pages22
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1994

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
* The author would like to acknowledge the financial assistance of the Israel Foundations Trustees, the United States Institute of Peace, the Davis Institute for International Relations, the Hebrew University and the Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, the Hebrew University. He would also like to acknowledge the advice and comments on earlier drafts of Arie Kacowicz, Jacob Berkovitz, Raymond Cohen, Richard Little, anonymous referees of the Review, and especially the thoughtful help of Korina Kagan. 1 See Robert Jervis, 'From Balance of Power to Concert: A Study of International Security Cooperation', World Politics, 38 (1985), pp. 58-79, and Steve Weber, 'Realism, Detente, and Nuclear Weapons', International Organization, 44 (1990), pp. 55-82. See also Paul Schroeder, 'The 19th-century International System: Changes in the Structure', World Politics, 34 (1986), pp. 1-26, and Michael Mandelbaum, The Fate of Nations (New York, 1988), ch. 1. 2 This argument draws on the model presented in Benjamin Miller, 'Explaining Great Power Cooperation in Conflict Management', World Politics, 45 (1992), pp. 1-46. This model advances general linkages between types of great power cooperation in conflict management and levels of causal variables, more specifically, contrasting the linkage between systemic factors and crisis management with the linkage between unit-level elements and cooperation in conflict resolution. Here I shall focus on developing and refining the relations between the unit level and great power concerts. I use the neo-realist methodological distinction between system (polarity) and state (or unit) levels; see Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, 1979). Yet, neither the independent nor the dependent variables in the present study correspond substamively to neo-realist analysis. On the side of the independent variables, I underline the unit level rather than the system level. In fact, polarity will be shown to be irrelevant to the formation of great power concerts. My dependent variable—great power concerts—is seen by neo-realism, at best, as a sharp deviation from the dominant type of great power behaviour—competing and balancing each other, and thus it has largely been outside of the neo-realist research programme. Hence, the substantive analysis will rely heavily on non-neo-realist authors (some of whom might be called neo-liberal), whose concept of the system includes factors such as shared norms and common values. Yet, the conceptualization of these factors as either systemic or unit-level is more a matter of classification than substance. I find the neo-realist distinction between levels of analysis more useful because it clearly differentiates between power-related factors and normative-cognitive elements as alternative explanations of international outcomes. However categorized, the latter factors will constitute the main explanatory variables in this article. Moreover, shared norms and common values derive primarily from internal state attributes such as type of regime and ideology. Thus the unit-level factors are the independent variables, whereas the shared norms are the intervening variables in accounting for the formation of concerts.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations

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