International Politics

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 144–160 | Cite as

It’s not the size, it’s the relationship: from ‘small states’ to asymmetry

  • Tom LongEmail author
Original Article


Much time and enormous amount of academic effort has gone into defining small states and their position in world politics. This endeavor, sadly, has produced very little agreement. It is therefore time to reposition the discussion. I do so by arguing that the analysis of small states should move from a concentration on ‘smallness’ to looking in more detail at the relationships in which these states are engaged. IR scholars should therefore stop defining and re-defining the concept of ‘small state,’ quite literally setting it aside as an analytical category. This article advocates a whole-hearted embrace of a relational approach, replacing the analytical category of ‘small state’ with a new perspective and terminology.


Small states IR theory Interstate relations Preponderant powers Hypo-powers 


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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of ReadingWhiteknights, ReadingUK
  2. 2.Centro de Investigación y Docencia EconómicasMexico CityMexico

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