International Politics

, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 59–77

The domestic politics of international hierarchy: Risk management and the reconstitution of international society

Original Article


Recent work has identified new hierarchical relationships within international society. However, few scholars have provided a satisfactory account of what informs their formation, reproduction or constitutional effects for international society. We argue that underpinning the emergence of a more hierarchical international society is a new social logic of risk, which constructs illiberal and/or fragile states as potentially dangerous sites of instability and disorder that pose particular security risks for Western states. We proceed to argue that such risk-based hierarchies are transformative of both inter-state and intra-state relations, by stripping equal political agency from ‘risky’ actors within and without the state. We demonstrate these claims by drawing on examples of international state building in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific.


international society English school hierarchy risk intervention 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social Sciences and International Studies, University of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Asia Research Centre, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, Murdoch UniversityWestern AustraliaAustralia

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