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A Review Of Polities, Authority, Identities, And Change

1560 words - 6 pages

Polities, Authority, Identities and Change yielded after more than 20 years of productive cooperation of Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach. Several years before publishing Policies, in their previous book The Elusive Quest: Theory and International Politics, Ferguson and Mansbach exposed the need for displaying an alternative approach to perceiving and interpreting relations among different polities, which served as a foundation for this book. (Ferguson & Mansbach, 1988). This fourth collaborative book came into light of the day as the reaction to the perceived increasing disparity between international relations academic knowledge (theory) and international relations practice (reality), which international relations theory aims to explicate. These noted scholars question the framework of the Westphalian model of territorially bounded sovereign nation-states and share the opinion that the lack of forceful opponent led to continuous supremacy of the realism as “grand theory”. This situation promoted the model of the world based on the mainstream European tradition of power politics with main focus on structural determinants and states-as-actors, which had many weak points. In both authors’ opinion, these flaws had erosive effect on academic knowledge of international relations. Hence, both authors share sceptical view on how contemporary essential issues in international relations might be presented in the light of realism view. Their concern was focused on the practitioners and their view of the world moulded by the dominant theory: “It is no exaggeration to suggest that ordinary citizens who follow the daily news may have a better picture of the way the world actually works than the vast majority of blinkered IR theorists" (Ferguson & Mansbach, 1996, p. 4). For that reason, they wanted to offer a new and improved theory of politics as an opposition to the dominant theories.

This voluminous book of almost 500 pages is divided into three parts; introduction with Theory, focal part with chosen Practice and the end of the book is covered by a thirty-eight-page Conclusion, focused on applying the knowledge of the past to the currant issues. Major section is dedicated to the second part, divided into eleven chapters, which are devoted to six case studies intended to illustrate how authors´ theory goes along with available written historical material. This central part of the book grasped wide range of case studies and included overview from ancient history represented by Mesopotamia, Greece, China, Mesoamerica. This far-reaching work goes beyond listed ancient history cases and represents a case of Arab world and Islam as well as medieval Italy. The case of Islam is especially interesting due to its failure to create a political structure that is stable in defined territorial area such as others Westphalian polities. Each case was presented in “horizontal” and “vertical” dimension. Horizontal dimension represented spatial interactions in...

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