Reading Hobbes in Beijing

Great power politics and the challenge of the peaceful ascent

Authored by: Giovanni Arrighi

Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE)

Print publication date:  February  2009
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415771269
eBook ISBN: 9780203881569
Adobe ISBN: 9781135984014


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“Particularly in the social sciences,” notes Benjamin Cohen, “intellectual developments tend to be tied … to new events and trends that make old ways of thinking inadequate.” The birth of IPE in US political science in the early 1970s was no exception, rooted as it was in the seeming decline of US power that ensued from remarkable recovery of the European and Japanese economies after the devastation of the Second World War on the one side, and the fundamental transformation of relations between the wealthy North and the poverty-stricken South entailed by postwar decolonization on the other. Partly cause and partly effect of these changes, a growing interdependence of national economies seemed to threaten the ability of governments to manage economic affairs, while a growing détente between the two nuclear superpowers seemed to undermine the salience of the traditional concern of students of world politics with national security. This was the historical context in which the pioneers of American IPE challenged the then dominant “realist model of purposive states singlemindedly preoccupied with the ‘high politics’ of war and peace” (Cohen, this volume, Chapter 1).

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