Unimensional accounts of revisionism – those that align states along a single continuum from supporting the status quo to seeking a complete overhaul of the international system – miss important variation between a desire to alter the balance of military power and a desire to alter other elements of international order. We propose a two-dimensional property space that generates four ideal types: status-quo actors, who are satisfied with both order and the distribution of power; reformist actors, who are fine with the current distribution of power but seek to change elements of order; positionalist actors, who see no reason to alter the international order but do aim to shift the distribution of power; and revolutionary actors, who want to overturn both international order and the distribution of capabilities. This framework helps make sense of a number of important debates about hegemony and international order, such as the possibility of revisionist hegemonic powers, controversies over the concept of ‘soft balancing’, and broader dynamics of international goods substitution during power transitions.
Chinese and Russian foreign policy, in part, reflects both countries' ambitions for higher status in the international system. This implies a critical question: can accommodating these ambitions prevent, or even reverse, the turn toward geopolitically competitive grand strategies by Moscow and Beijing? In other words, might accommodation lead them to channel their efforts in more benign directions? The dominant framework for analyzing the ways in which states seek status-a framework rooted in the insights of Social Identity Theory (SIT)-suggests that the answer is yes: status-seekers will most likely turn toward geopolitically competitive strategies when they face apparently "impermeable" obstacles to their ambitions. I argue that this framework depends on a "mistranslation" of SIT. Properly translated, the theory tells us little about the consequences of persistent status denial for international politics. Instead, it implies that status-seeking will resolve into geopolitical competition when, first, participants view geopolitically significant resources as markers of status and, second, when leaders believe that they can successfully change the distribution of status. I use analyses of two prominent cases that should prove friendly ground for the conventional translation of SIT-Germany before World War I and Imperial Japan-to demonstrate the serious problems that plague the framework favored by international relations scholars, especially with respect to its central claim about the link between persistent status denial and geopolitical competition.
The importance of concerns about status in world politics has rarely been as evident as it is today. Yet our understanding of how status dynamics influence politics and foreign policy remains limited. Dominant approaches draw on insights from social psychology about individual attitudes and behavior, but scale these up to build accounts of states as unitary or anthropomorphic actors. This results in serious theoretical problems and analytical blind spots. In this article, I offer a new framework – still rooted in social psychological insights about intergroup status dynamics – that addresses these problems. I recast the fundamental question from one about how states react to status dissatisfaction to one about how individuals – with different psychological profiles, different interests, and different positions within the national community – react to anxiety about the status of the state with they identify. I develop four broad logics that inform responses to national status dissatisfaction: identification change, emulation, transformation, and rejection. These logics subsume familiar arguments about how states seek status, but they also accommodate additional variation and explanatory possibilities. They thus constitute a more flexible framework that is better suited than existing alternatives to understand the full variety of ways in which status dynamics may influence world politics.
Despite the continuing interest in a concern for relationships between culture, management values and economic activity, there is a lack of empirical evidence about these relationships during the unprecedented economic transformations in Asian nations in the 1990s. This study evaluated variations in values that tapped concerns fundamental to the Chinese world view during the period of the Asian financial crisis of 1997. Data were provided by ethnic Chinese managers from Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore prior to and after the meltdown. The study findings demonstrate a number of the values changed significantly, which questions assumptions of the longevity of these values, which were identified in earlier periods of relative economic stability. These findings suggest the emergence of distinct managerial styles in each country, rather than the continuance of more common “Asian” or a Chinese way of doing business.
Denied status claims can produce serious interstate conflict and accommodation may thus be an important means of avoiding conflict with rising and reemerging status seekers such as China and Russia. But accommodation is an underdeveloped concept. This article draws on scholarship about recognition and hierarchy to propose a novel means of understanding status accommodation: as behavior that sends signals to status seekers about the validity of claims to stratified rights. This framework implies that acts that signal status denial (and thus cause conflict over status) may be driven by three broad kinds of processes: anxiety about a state's position in the world; incompatibility between nonstatus interests and claims to status-implicated rights; and fears about the implications of status accommodation for the validity of discourses and ideas that produce both international and domestic order. These dynamics—especially the latter two—may be linked to domestic political mechanisms and concerns in ways that analysts do not fully appreciate. I illustrate the framework by examining the forces that drove the United States to deny Japanese claims to equal status during the decades before World War II.
Why and how do weak states challenge the status quo? This article builds on analyses of hierarchy in International Relations to develop a more comprehensive and inclusive understanding of the concept of revisionism. We argue that while weak actors cannot generally directly challenge their position in a stratified hierarchy, they may be able to undermine or subvert the discourses that constitute these hierarchies. This approach is likely to be attractive and feasible under two conditions: when other approaches to reform have been frustrated, and when social and political resources are available to facilitate such subversive challenges. We illustrate this argument by analyzing the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons as a subversive revisionist project. Small states—frustrated by their inability to negotiate meaningful reform through the status quo framework—partnered with civil society and drew upon discursive resources developed during prior subversive revisionist projects in an effort to stigmatize nuclear weapons and subvert the discourses constituting the advantaged positions of those possessing them. While the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) is unlikely to directly persuade nuclear weapon states to abandon their arsenals, it could have unpredictable consequences across a related range of hierarchic fields that constitute the status quo order.
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