Before hegemony: Britain, free trade,and nineteenth-century world order revisited

Lacher, Hannes and Germann, Julian (2012) Before hegemony: Britain, free trade,and nineteenth-century world order revisited. International Studies Review, 14 (1). pp. 99-124. ISSN 1521-9488

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Abstract

This article argues that neo-Gramscian theorizations of hegemony have failed to illuminate the role of nineteenth-century Britain in the rise of a liberal world economy in three respects. First, they have provided mutually exclusive accounts of the social forces underpinning
domestic and international hegemony. Second, they have failed to show Britain’s agency in the making of a liberal world order. Third, they have posited a uniformity of social forces and liberal state forms that elides the differences between British and continental societies, thereby obscuring the real reasons for the general shift to liberal internationalism. We argue that it was the structural differences in the economic, social, and political organization of Britain and continental Europe that made free trade without a hegemon possible. Neo-Gramscian theorists of hegemony—just like their mainstream peers—have unduly generalized from the unique structures of American hegemony after 1945. Instead of serving as a master concept to organize the history of international
relations, hegemony itself needs to be historicized: as a singular and temporally limited possibility of societal and international rule, preceded and succeeded by other forms.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Depositing User: Jayne Paulin
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2013 13:04
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2013 14:54
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/45788
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