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Back to BasicsState Power in a Contemporary World$
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Martha Finnemore and Judith Goldstein

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199970087

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199970087.001.0001

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Choice and Constraint in the Great Recession of 2008

Choice and Constraint in the Great Recession of 2008

(p.196) 10 Choice and Constraint in the Great Recession of 2008
Back to Basics

Peter Gourevitch

Oxford University Press

Stephen Krasner’s exploration of the tension between state and system provides useful frames for reflecting on the current crisis in the global economy. We can see the debate on what happened and what to do about it as reflecting macro vs. micro lines of interpretation: macro variables in policy (attributes of the economy as a whole) at the unit level of the state, and micro variables (internal to the various institutions and markets of each country). States do matter in this analysis: states have agency. They make choices and decisions. They are influenced by systemic variables, but they have capacity to shape their response to those influences. System-level thinkers of constructivist, realist, or neoliberal persuasions stress constraints. At the same time, analysis at the state system level is insufficient. If states are able to make choices, we need to explain that choice. Here I privilege domestic politics: precisely because states have options, unit level analysis (generalizing from national interest, from place in the system to policy outcomes) is insufficient in accounting for how states chose among their options. For that, we need to understand the processes whereby states pick among those options, how countries “choose” to exercise their agency.

Keywords:   international relations, foreign policy, foreign economic policy

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