The social origins of 18th Century British grand strategy: a historical sociology of the peace of Utrecht

Teschke, Benno (2019) The social origins of 18th Century British grand strategy: a historical sociology of the peace of Utrecht. In: Soons, Alfred H A (ed.) The 1713 peace of Utrecht and its enduring effects. Nova et Vetera Iuris Gentium, 31 . Brill - Nijhoff, Boston, Leiden, pp. 120-155. ISBN 9789004266407

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This chapter provides a new interpretation of early 18th Century British grand strategy formation, its institutionalisation in the Peace of Utrecht (1713), and its impact on post-conflict 18th C international order from within the discipline of International Relations. The historical argument is that ‘Utrecht’ codified a new and unique type of British grand strategy – the dual ‘blue-water policy’ – for the geopolitical management of European international relations and beyond. It cleaved into a defensive policy towards the Continent, involving the ‘rationalisation’, i.e. de-ideologisation, de-confessionalisation, and de-territorialisation of Britain’s continental objectives, plus the invention and active manipulation of power balancing towards continental rivals; and an offensive policy overseas, expressed in the unilateral pursuit of oceanic mercantile primacy. This strategy was grounded in an altered institutional foreign policy context – the post-1688 ‘revolution in foreign affairs’ – subsequent to constitutional changes in the British polity during the 17th C Revolution. The British peace plan, enacted at Utrecht, constitutes a sui generis phenomenon that cannot be exhaustively captured with prevailing IR concepts, including hegemony, formal or informal imperialism, automatic power-balancing, international society, collective security, or hierarchy. Theoretically, the chapter adopts a historicist method to re-craft attempts within critical International Historical Sociology in the direction of a Historical Sociology of International Politics to escape the structuralist-functionalist trap.

Item Type: Book Section
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
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Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2020 08:20
Last Modified: 20 Apr 2021 15:20

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