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Back to BasicsState Power in a Contemporary World$
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Martha Finnemore and Judith Goldstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199970087

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199970087.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2021

Authority, Coercion, and Power in International Relations

Authority, Coercion, and Power in International Relations

(p.55) 4 Authority, Coercion, and Power in International Relations
Back to Basics

David A. Lake

Oxford University Press

Despite its central role in theories of international politics, scholars have an impoverished conception of power. Focusing almost exclusively on material capabilities and coercion, scholars ignore and even actively deny the role of political authority in relations between states. I attempt to demonstrate the importance of authority for world politics by showing how the concept makes coherent previously problematic or incomplete theories of international relations and produces new insights for future research. After distinguishing between authority and coercion as two major forms of power, I show that authority is central to variations in sovereignty, hegemonic orders, the conflict between developed and developing states, and the current debate over failed states and international trusteeship. International relations cannot be explained only by material capabilities and coercion. We need to bring authority “back in” to the study of world politics.

Keywords:   power, state power, authority, international relations, sovereignty, hegemony

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