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It’s not the size, it’s the relationship: from ‘small states’ to asymmetry

Long, T. (2017) It’s not the size, it’s the relationship: from ‘small states’ to asymmetry. International Politics, 54 (2). pp. 144-160. ISSN 1740-3898

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1057/s41311-017-0028-x


Debate about the definition of “small state” has produced more fragmentation than consensus, even as the literature has demonstrated its subjects’ roles in joining international organizations propagating norms, executing creative diplomacy, influencing allies, avoiding and joining conflicts, and building peace. However, work on small states has struggled to identify commonalities in these states’ international relations, to cumulate knowledge, or to impact broader IR theory. This paper advocates a changed conceptual and definitional framework. Analysis of “small states” should pivot to examine the dynamics of the asymmetrical relationships in which these states are engaged. Instead of seeking an overall metric for size as the relevant variable—falling victim in a different way Dahl’s “lump-of-power fallacy,” we can recognize the multifaceted, variegated nature of power, whether in war or peacetime.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:59064
Uncontrolled Keywords:Small states, weak states, asymmetry, alliances, international relations
Additional Information:The publisher provided link for sharing the full text can be here:
Publisher:Palgrave Macmillan


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