International Society

Nick Rengger

in International Relations

ISBN: 9780199743292
Published online March 2011 | | DOI:
International Society

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“International society” is a term of art introduced into the study of international relations largely by a group of scholars working in the United Kingdom in the 1950s and 1960s, often referred to as the “English School” of international relations—and was in part clearly an attempt to distinguish their emphasis from the emphasis on the international system very prevalent in international-relations scholarship in the United States at that time. It was derived from the historical and legal study of human interactions that had its origins in the growth of the diplomatic system in Europe (and later elsewhere) after the 15th century; works of 17th- and 18th-century thinkers such as Hugo Grotius (b. 1583–d. 1645), Samuel Pufendorf (b. 1632–d. 1694), and Emmerich de Vattel (b. 1714–d. 1767); and the growth and codification of international law during the 19th century. Other thinkers who influenced the school would include the international lawyers of the 19th and early 20th centuries, nationalist writers such as Mazzini and, of course—though largely negatively—Niccolo Machiavelli and Karl Marx. While the English School has perhaps been the most influential group of theorists to have developed the notion of international society, it has not been the only one. Some constructivist writers, such as Alexander Wendt; some communitarian writers, such as Amitai Etzioni; and some radical scholars of world politics, such as Richard Falk, have also used the notion of international society in more or less different ways. And the English school has also influenced writers whose broad philosophical approach is very different, such as James Der Derian whose thesis, later published as On Diplomacy, was supervised by Hedley Bull. This bibliography will focus principally on the English School approach to international society but will also draw attention to other accounts where they vary with, challenge, or enrich, in important ways, the English School approach.

Article.  4348 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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