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Before the State
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Before the State: Systemic Political Change in the West from the Greeks to the French Revolution

Andreas Osiander


This book challenges the habit of conventional historiography of taking the ‘essential’ state – a ‘bounded entity’ equipped with a ‘sovereign’ central power — for granted in any period and of not taking period political terminology seriously. It refutes the idea, current both in historiography and in International Relations theory (in particular Realism), that the fundamental nature of ‘international’ politics is historically immutable. Nothing akin to what we call the ‘state’ existed before the 19th century: it is a recent invention and the assumption that it is timeless, necessary for societ ... More

Keywords: International Relations theory, Realism, historiography, state-centrism, sovereignty, bounded entities, structural change, constructivism, political discourse, western civilization

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2007 Print ISBN-13: 9780198294511
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2008 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198294511.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Andreas Osiander, author
Lecturer in International Relations, Leipzig University