Politics and International Relations

Our Politics and International Relations list engages with today’s global challenges and with political change at domestic and international levels. It includes work from across the subdisciplines and reflects the variety of approaches and methods used in political analysis.

Book highlights include the Bristol Studies in East Asian International Relations and Bristol Studies in International Theory series, the Policy & Politics and European Journal of Politics and Gender journals and work from prestigious authors such as Andrew Gamble, Andrew Linklater, Laura Shepherd and Keith Dowding.

Our journals in the area are Policy & Politics, ranked 13th of 47 in Public Administration and this year celebrating its 50th year, Global Discourse, the European Journal of Politics and Gender and the forthcoming Global Political Economy.

Politics and International Relations

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The book’s concluding chapter underscores its contribution towards two bodies of literature, first, on middle power theory more broadly, and second, on middle powers in Asia Pacific multilateralism. In contrast to views that non-major powers do not matter in international politics, the book has demonstrated the value of an alternative structural perspective – specifically one based on differentiation – in the study of middle power behaviour, and highlighted how the differentiated structure may interact with power politics to generate middle power behaviour in multilateralism. Based on the book’s findings, the chapter also highlights key areas for further research.

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This chapter presents a comparative analysis of the middle power behaviour of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea in the formation of APEC and the EAS. It traces the empirical developments back to the differentiated structure of regional politics and the relational, relative and social power politics characterizing the respective contexts. The specifics of such negotiations of power politics would vary across the three middle powers not just due to differences in their material and ideational attributes, but also in terms of the social relations they were embedded in. The discussion further reinforces the importance of context, by briefly highlighting two other scenarios of Asia Pacific multilateralism – namely, in the establishment of the ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus – where middle power initiative was apparently absent.

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This chapter examines the circumstances that led to APEC’s creation in 1989 and its early years. Amid declining Cold War tensions and the collapse of global bipolarity, Asia’s economic rise, as well as the anxieties over extra-regional trade blocs, the behaviour of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea contributed towards diluting major-power stratificatory forces and enabling them to assume functionally differentiated roles. The actions of the three middle powers helped to shape a more inclusive and equal decision making in the region, and demonstrated the functions of middle powers – building on their material and ideational attributes – as initiators of or mediators within the new platform.

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This chapter introduces the argument, research design and contributions of the book. Drawing from insights offered by differentiation theory and power politics, this book establishes a new framework to study middle power behaviour in Asia Pacific multilateralism. The key argument is that middle powers pursue a dilution of major-power stratificatory forces as well as functionally differentiated roles for themselves in multilateral diplomacy. The book seeks to contribute theoretically to the middle power literature, as well as empirically to the knowledge of why and how middle powers shape Asia Pacific multilateralism. The chapter also offers an overview of the subsequent chapters.

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A Differential Framework
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Drawing on insights from differentiation theory, this book examines the participation of middle powers in multilateralism.

Taking Australia, Indonesia and South Korea as examples, the book examines these countries’ roles in regional organizations, and particularly their creation of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and East Asia Summit. Through its analysis, the book argues that middle powers pursue a weakening of ‘stratificatory differentiation’, targeted in particular at major powers, and a strengthening of ‘functional differentiation’ in which middle powers can assume key roles.

The book sets out a valuable new framework to explain and understand the behaviour of middle powers in multilateralism.

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This chapter examines the circumstances surrounding the formative days of the EAS that was first conceptualized in 2001 and through its expansion in 2011. Against the backdrop of the Asian financial crisis, US counterterrorism strategy post-9/11, Sino-Japanese rivalry and proliferation of ASEAN-centred multilateralism, the behaviour of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea contributed towards diluting major-power stratificatory forces and enabling them to assume functionally differentiated roles. Through the EAS and its associated processes, all three countries sought to moderate the overwhelming influence of major powers in the region. The functions of middle powers as initiators of or facilitators within regional multilateralism were also reflected in the approaches of Australia, Indonesia and South Korea towards the EAS.

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This article opens a conversation between uneven and combined development (U&CD) and state capitalism studies. It reflects on the potential of U&CD to answer the following questions: why has there been an aggregate expansion of the state’s role as promoter, supervisor and owner of capital across the world capitalist economy since the turn of the millennium, and why has this taken an uneven and combined form? I argue that U&CD as an evolving research programme holds great potential in creatively expanding the study of state capitalism and its multi-scalar geographies. It is particularly well positioned to help us elucidate the multilinear and interactive character of present-day state capitalism. U&CD’s heuristics of ‘societal multiplicity’, ‘combination’ and ‘hybridisation’ can help us trace the combinatorial dynamics which result in the cumulative expansion of state prerogatives and their cascading impacts across policy realms and geographic space. Yet the causal mechanisms identified by U&CD (the ‘whip of external necessity’, ‘the privilege of historic backwardness’ and ‘the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous’) are unable to grasp contemporary state capitalist transformations in their historical and geographical fullness, notably due to a tendency to misread spatial unevenness as temporal dislocation. Theorising state capitalism requires that we examine the role of multiple and interacting capitalist states in politically mediating historically determinate transformations in the capitalist labour process, and their ramifications in terms of the temporal and geographical dynamics of value production and circulation. Thus, looking at U&CD from the perspective of the new state capitalism reveals both its analytical strengths and limitations for GPE.

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The contemporary study of middle powers has focused primarily on defining the concept and examining the foreign policies of such states. While there has yet to be a standardized definition of what middle powers are, the literature suggests three primary ways of approaching the concept, based on material capabilities, identity and behaviour. This chapter reviews the existing approaches to middle powers, with the aims of: establishing a working definition for middle powers which is then used to identify Australia, Indonesia and South Korea as middle powers in the Asia Pacific; drawing out the underlying notion of differentiation in the extant literature; and, highlighting the widely acknowledged link between middle powers and multilateralism.

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Through employing differentiation theory as a heuristic, this chapter sets out a conceptual framework to explore the differentiation mechanism that generates middle power behaviour in multilateralism. The framework here treats structure as segmented, stratified and functionally differentiated. Middle power behaviour is produced when the effects of the differentiated structure are activated by social, relative and relational power politics. Although the specific outcomes would depend on the particular circumstances of the time and place, this framework overall expects that middle powers would pursue a dilution of major-power stratification and take on functionally differentiated roles in multilateralism.

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This chapter is divided into two main areas: the impact of the economy on defence reviews and contemporary affordability issues. Chapter 5 confirmed the relevance of defence reviews to the interpretation of the translation of strategic direction to military capability model; therefore, recognizing how finance and the economy have shaped defence reviews, and ultimately the defence budget, is a critical part of understanding why the UK has the military capability that it has. The second part of the analysis in this chapter focuses on the more tactical financial concerns of defence decision makers as they go about their business-as-usual management of military capability. Undoubtedly the biggest concerns expressed by senior officials in this area were the over commitment of the defence budget and the ever-expanding list of efficiencies they were expected to deliver to help keep it in check.

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