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Hegemony in International Society$
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Ian Clark

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556267

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556267.001.0001

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Singular Hegemony: Pax Britannica 1815–1914

Singular Hegemony: Pax Britannica 1815–1914

(p.98) 5 Singular Hegemony: Pax Britannica 1815–1914
Hegemony in International Society

Ian Clark (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The second historical case revisits Britain's role in the nineteenth century. While conventionally Pax Britannica has been presented as one of the cases of hegemonic stability, this view has been strongly challenged. The chapter suggests that Britain can be considered a case of singular hegemony, but of a distinctive type: it depended as much on British weaknesses as on its strengths. This was especially so in its inability to control the European balance, as also in its increasingly exposed position in the Empire. Rather than rehearse the material dimensions of British economic power, the chapter turns instead to the followers, and asks to what extent Britain was viewed as a model for emulation, or encouraged a liberal order. These issues are explored in the contexts of free trade, and the roles of sterling and the gold standard.

Keywords:   economic power, empire, emulation, European balance, free trade, gold standard, Great Britain, hegemonic stability, liberal order, Pax Britannica, sterling

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