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An Introduction to the English School of International Relations: The Societal Approach



An Introduction to the English School of International Relations: The Societal Approach

Barry Buzan

ISBN: 978-0-745-65314-3 June 2014 Polity 256 Pages


This outstanding book is the first comprehensive introduction to the English School of International Relations. Written by leading ES scholar Barry Buzan, it expertly guides readers through the English School’s formative ideas, intellectual and historical roots, current controversies and future avenues of development.

Part One sets out the English School’s origins and development, explaining its central concepts and methodological tools, and placing it within the broader canon of IR theory. Part Two offers a detailed account of the historical, regional and social structural strands of the English School, explaining the important link between the school’s historical projects and its interest in a societal approach to international relations. Part Three explores the School’s responses to the enduring problems of order and justice, and highlights the changing balance between pluralist and solidarist institutions in the evolution of international society over the past five centuries. The book concludes with a discussion of the English School’s ongoing controversies and debates, and identifies opportunities for further research.

For students new to the topic this book will provide an accessible and balanced overview, whilst those already familiar with the ES will be prompted to look afresh at their own understanding of its significance and potentiality.

Foreword vii

Part I Background and Context 1

Introduction 3

1 The Evolution of the English School 5

2 Key Concepts 12

3 Theories and Methodologies 21

Conclusions to Part I 39

Part II The Historical/Structural Orientation 41

Introduction 43

4 International Society in World History 47

5 The Expansion of European International Society 60

Conclusions to Part II: Theorizing International Society as

Social Structure 78

Part III Normative Orientations: Pluralism and Solidarism 81

Introduction 83

6 Classical Pluralism and its Successors 89

7 Pluralism in Historical Perspective 97

8 Classical Solidarism and its Successors 113

9 Solidarism in Historical Perspective 134

Conclusions to Part III 164

10 Ongoing Debates and Emergent Agendas 168

Notes 188

References 194

Index 223

"Barry Buzan has led the rejuvenation of the English school since the turn of the century. This gem of a book is the culmination of his research leadership of this important theoretical domain of contemporary international relations. Readers will be pleased to find plenty of the analytical insight for which the author is renowned, supplemented by sharp commentaries on aspects of the historical, structural, and normative dimensions of the English school."
Tim Dunne, University of Queensland

"This book is the culmination of Buzan's call for a reconvening of the English School. Every conceivable aspect of the English School, what Buzan describes as a great conversation about international and world society, is included in this impressive book. Students and scholars alike will want to have this on their bookshelf."
Brian C. Schmidt, Carleton University