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Small states, great power? Gaining influence through intrinsic, derivative, and collective power

Long, T. (2017) Small states, great power? Gaining influence through intrinsic, derivative, and collective power. International Studies Review, 19 (2). pp. 185-205. ISSN 1468-2486

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1093/isr/viw040

Abstract/Summary

In recent years, scholars have devoted increased attention to the agency of small states in International Relations. However, the conventional wisdom remains that while not completely powerful, small states are unlikely to achieve much of significance when faced by great power opposition. This argument, however, implicitly rests on resource-based and compulsory understandings of power. This article explores the implicit connections between the concept of "small state" and diverse concepts of power, asking how we should understand these states' attempts to gain influence and achieve their international political objectives. By connecting the study of small states with additional understandings of power, the article elaborates the broader avenues for influence that are open to many states but are particularly relevant for small states. The article argues that small states' power can be best understood as originating in three categories: “derivative,” collective, and particular-intrinsic. Derivative power, coined by Michael Handel, relies upon the relationship with a great power. Collective power involves building coalitions of supportive states, often through institutions. Particular-intrinsic power relies on the assets of the small state trying to do the influencing. Small states specialize in the bases and means of these types of power, which may have unconventional compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive aspects.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:64707
Uncontrolled Keywords:small states, weak states, small powers, weak powers, power, influence
Publisher:Wiley

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