War, selection, and micro-states: Economic and sociological perspectives on the international system
MetadataShow full item record
Much International Relations theory explains the dominance of the sovereign state within the international system by a process of competitive selection. By analogy, the selection effects of market competition in promoting better-adapted firms are said to illustrate the selection effects of security competition under anarchy in promoting better-adapted units, specifically sovereign states. In critiquing this analogy, the article argues instead that the historical diffusion and current dominance of sovereign states is better explained by a sociological institutionalist logic. Units secure social acceptance, and incidentally survival, through conformity to promote legitimacy. This position is justified on three grounds. First, survival and violent elimination from the international system over the last two centuries are unrelated to military capacity, but highly correlated with legitimacy. Second, selection-by-learning rests on a series of highly demanding and unrealistic assumptions; the sociological alternative requires much less heroic assumptions. Finally, a qualitative study of micro-states, most-likely cases for competitive elimination, demonstrates their attempts to conform to idealized templates of the modern state.
European Journal of International Relations
© 2015 The Author(s). This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Political Science not elsewhere classified