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The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics Paperback – 7 Jun 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 3rd edition edition (7 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0333985877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0333985878
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 450,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Reviews of previous editions:

'A masterful analysis of the problem of international order in contemporary society and of the feasibility of such alternative models as disarmament, global organization, a highly proliferated world, and a radical redistribution of wealth and power.' - Foreign Affairs

'An important book likely to be read with profit for along time to come.' - The Times Literary Supplement

'Bull has written that rarest of books: it is not the last, but the first word on its subject.' - Political Science Quarterly

About the Author

HEDLEY BULL was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford, until his untimely death in 1985. He had previously been Professor of International Relations, Australian National University.

STANLEY HOFFMAN is Dillon Professor of the Civilization of France, and Chairman of the Center for European Studies, Harvard University.

ANDREW HURRELL is Lecturer in International Relations and Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.

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A study of order in world politics must begin with the question: what is it? Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 April 2001
Format: Paperback
I read this work as part of my MA in International Studies. It is awesome in its breadth and and amazing in its simplicity. A must for any student of the subject, you cannot do without it.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful By gareth on 1 Oct 2010
Format: Paperback
got the book, all pages there i think. excellent, however alot of passages are highlighted in pink which is quite annoying
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
a good critique of the anarchical worldview 10 Jan 2008
By Faruk Ekmekci - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The concept of "anarchy" has enjoyed a privileged status in each of the two main schools of thought of IR, namely neorealism and neoliberalism -albeit in varying size and nature. I have always believed that this overemphasis on anarchy was unjustified and misleading. I think what is important is not the mere presence or absence of a governmental body at the international level, but rather whether any mechanism exists that functions against Waltz's assertion that "wars occur because there is nothing that prevents them" (1959, 232). In our modern global world, no state except the hegemon can get away with a "fait accompli" that will change regional of global balances of power. This simply means that every state except one has an "impediment" to behave like a "rogue" state. Thus, the absence of a material world government to punish the deviant states does not necessarily create an anarchic international environment, because the practical function of such a government is fulfilled to a large extent by the hierarchical nature of the international system. This is true for multipolar systems where there is a balance of power among major states as well. Throughout modern history, each state that sought a global hegemony found a community of others against her. Thus, balance of power has indeed been an ordering principle in international relations.

I found my inspiration as to the "order" in the international system in the writings of some British scholars. Contrary to the central place of anarchy in the North American theories of international relations, "international society" thinking and its resultant emphasis on "order" has been a tradition in post-war Britain. "The English School" argued that there is a persistent order in the international system alongside "anarchy" and that the preservation of a minimal order has been a common objective of the major members of the international system. Hedley Bull was one of the most influential scholars within the English School. In his The Anarchical Society he defines order in international system as "a pattern or activity that sustains the elementary or primary goals of the society of states," (p. 8). In further elaboration, he lists these goals as 1) the preservation of the system and society of states itself, 2) maintaining the sovereignty of states, 3) maintaining peace, and 4) sustaining the elementary goals of the individual, i.e. life, truth, and property (pp. 16-18). He argues that the maintenance of order is a common goal of states, because -whatever the further goals of states- the existence of a minimal order is a necessary condition to achieve these higher goals. Like individuals, states value order because they value "the greater predictability of human behavior" that comes as the consequence of conformity to the elementary or primary goals of states (p. 7).
According to Bull, "balance of power" is the primary and most effective instrument for the maintenance of international order. It is primary, because it provides the conditions in which other institutions of order (diplomacy, war, international law, and great power management) have been able to operate; it is the most effective, because by preventing the emergence of a hegemon, balance of power helps preserve the existent order.
Two of the instruments that Bull argues states use to preserve international order are particularly interesting. First, Bull directs our attention to the positive functions of war with respect to the maintenance of order. While in the traditional IR literature war is associated with conflict and disorder, Bull argues that war has widely been used by states (in particular the great powers) as a means of enforcing international law and preserving balance of power (p. 102). Thus, for Bull, war is a two-faceted phenomenon: a threat to be limited in most cases, but also an instrument to be used for order-related purposes in some cases. Second, he contends that great power politics contribute to the preservation of international order as well. Bull argues that great powers do so by preserving the general balance of power, avoiding major crisis among themselves, and respecting each other's "spheres of influences" (p. 200). In that respect, the English school warns us that the great power politics is not a wholly "tragic" story.
I think The Anarchical Society made two important contributions to our understanding of international politics. First, it persuasively argued that we are not living in an international "jungle". In Bull's (and my own) view, anarchy is an element of international structure, but neither the only nor the predominant one. States purposively try to limit the negative effects of anarchy by working together to preserve a minimal level of order in order to attain higher objectives. Second, Bull helped us realize that some crucial elements of international politics -war and great power politics-, which are generally associated with conflict, many times play positive roles in terms of the preservation of international order.
An important shortcoming in Bull's approach is that Bull remains quite when it comes to the "nature" of international order. The question of what causes the emergence of different international orders is outside the scope of The Anarchical Society. Actually, Bull admits this point when he says that "we are concerned only with what may be called the `statics' of international order and not with its `dynamics'," (19). Hence, Bull does not offer us a "theory" of international relations.
Five Stars 8 Sep 2014
By Hong Liu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Nice 1 Sep 2013
By Joanna Kure - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am very, very, glad I bought this book.. The only version they have here is translated into Portuguese. :)
1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Leading Mind - 20 Sep 2010
By RJB - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bull lays out the rules very blankly. It's a bit of a hard read, but nonetheless its work from the actual English School mind.
2 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Thanks 7 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It was wonderful. I've never read something like that. I advise everyone to read it. Thank you.
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