International hierarchies and contemporary imperial governance: A tale of three kingdoms
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The growing body of literature on hierarchy in international relations has overlooked instances of contemporary imperial governance. These imperial arrangements constitute a strong test of rationalist contractual theories of hierarchy. They support the contention that some polities will eschew sovereign prerogatives, or even renounce sovereignty altogether. Contrary to historical instances of empire, current dependencies receive prominent material benefits from the continuation of their relationship with the metropole. But the failure of the metropoles to obtain equivalent benefits shows why contractual scholarship on hierarchy is incomplete in failing to incorporate logics of appropriateness. Thus the primary theoretical goal of the article is to show that such scholarship is right in claiming that there is more to the international system than just sovereign-like units under anarchy, but also that it is too narrow in seeking to explain all instances of hierarchy as mutually beneficial bargains. Evidence is taken from fieldwork and interviews in dependencies of the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand.
European Journal of International Relations
© 2013 The Author. 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.