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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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States and Power as Ur-Force

States and Power as Ur-Force

Domestic Traditions and Embedded Actors in World Politics

(p.139) 7 States and Power as Ur-Force
Back to Basics

Peter J. Katzenstein

Oxford University Press

This chapter inquires first into the domestic foundations of power. For Krasner the Hartzian view of liberalism is coherent and unitary. This is at odds with much of Louis Hartz’s own writings, which historicized the liberal tradition of the United States through a careful examination of its manifestations in subnational, international-comparative, and global contexts. Krasner’s coherence perspective overlooks the creativity of productive power that exploits the structural, racial, and institutional political divisions of America. The chapter also engages Krasner’s argument that rulers, not states, are the basic unit of international politics. For Krasner, actor preferences are uniform at all times and in all places, and rulers are intent on maximizing their individual power. Rather than stipulating the existence of a Homo politicus in a world of rational and autonomous rulers, we should stretch our conceptual categories to conceive of a world of rulers constituted by structures, embedded in institutions and seeking to exercise productive power. The chapter’s final section draws out the implications of these two arguments about contested and multiple traditions and constituted and embedded rulers. We are better served by capacious rather than sparse concepts. Intellectual capaciousness gives us purchase to formulate interesting and novel questions that encompass both actor-centric and relational perspectives. Capacious concepts allow us to escape the strong clutches of paradigmatic thinking and the comfortable cocoon of the like-minded. Working at the interstices of paradigms, with luck and hard work, we can reimagine the world in novel ways.

Keywords:   state power, international politics, Louis Hartz, Stephen Krasner

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