Rethinking Normative State Power in World Politics

Marjo Koivisto

in Normative State Power in International Relations

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199652792
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745270 | DOI:
Rethinking Normative State Power in World Politics

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While the normativity of the state is an omnipresent research theme in International Relations theory, variants of international theory from classical liberalism to recent constructivism continue to treat normative state power as a theoretical impossibility. Furthermore, as ‘normativity’ and ‘power’ continue to be juxtaposed, theoretical research remains primarily focused on the grounds for ethical judgments about state power, with substantial IR research exploring either the realisation of principled values in mitigating the manifestations of the geopolitical power of the state. This chapter offers an alternative theory of normative state power from a philosophical realist perspective. Normative state power concern’s the state institutions’ productive power (‘power to’). State institutions at multiple scales of politics manifest a set of moral facts, which are contingently objective to purposive social actors. These facts have both cognitive and emotional components, and take the form of intersecting formal and informal (or symbolic) norms, habits, and predominant lay and scientific accounts about the state. These facts are contingent on actors’ internal reflections, or conversations about social conventions and about their own preferences.

Keywords: power; institutional power; Bourdieu; social capital; field

Chapter.  11973 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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