Distinctions, distinctions: "public" and "private" force?

Owens, Patricia (2008) Distinctions, distinctions: "public" and "private" force? International Affairs, 84 (5). pp. 977-990. ISSN 0020-5850

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This article evaluates recent literatures within International Relations on so-called 'private force'. It suggests that the conceptual weaknesses of much of this literature can be accounted for, in part, by a misunderstanding of the historical and sociological importance of the way power is organized and legitimated through shifts in the publicprivate distinction. This distinction is one of the primary mechanisms, if not the primary mechanism, for organizing political, economic and, therefore, military power. For the sake of historical accuracy and conceptual integrity scholars should abandon the terminology of 'public' and 'private' force. Tracing how public-private distinctions shift and change as an effect of political power is a joint task for historical sociology and international political theory.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Reprinted in Alejandro Colás and Bryan Mabee (eds.) Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits and Empires: Private Violence in Historical Context (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), pp.25-42
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Patricia Owens
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:27
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2012 08:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/12550
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