The Great Power Contract: Re-negotiating Hegemony and International Order after the Cold War

Lead Research Organisation: Royal Holloway, University of London
Department Name: Politics and International Relations


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Description The main findings of the project are empirical, with theoretical and policy implications:
- US hegemony has been consolidated after the Cold War in spite of China's rise, because of the complicity of other key states in East Asia.
- These states have found it difficult to construct a new great power contract to replace the one they had with the US, and while Washington's authority has been diluted, diffused and resisted, it has not been replaced.
- The challenges of negotiating this new contract occur especially at the level of great power relations, between China, Japan and the Koreas.

These findings have crucial implications for wider intellectual and policy debates about hegemony, power and order:
- Rising powers are important but their challenge to the US-led international order must not be overstated. China especially has not yet mounted sustained resistance to the hegemonic order, but has instead allowed itself to be socialised into many of the existing core international norms and institutions.
- These limits to resistance suggest that US hegemony is more sustainable than some might think, and - crucially - it is supported in the region that ought to pose its greatest challenge.
- The revised social contract that East Asian states have been trying to negotiate aims at sustaining but constraining US power, legitimately accommodating but also binding China, and reassuring the insecurities of smaller states.
- East Asia has a layered hierarchical order.
Exploitation Route The project's innovative theorising about order transition and the re-negotiation of hegemonic social compacts, as well as layered hierarchical order has had an impact on other - established and younger - scholars working on international relations, both from a theoretical angle and with a focus on East Asia. My work on advancing the conceptual and analytical tools for such research has helped to stimulate a revival of interest in English School theory and more broadly eclectic approaches to studying contemporary and historical international relations.

The project has found resonance with several individual scholars:
- Jochen Prantl (University of Oxford and Australian National University) has used the concept of order transition to develop his own focus on re-negotiations of the hegemonic order in international organisations, and has invited me to contribute to two collaborative projects resulting in two publications thus far;
- Ian Clark (Aberystwyth University) has been my formal mentor in this award and has referred to my work in his extensive development of the concepts of hegemony and special responsibilities in international society;
- Other English School scholars interested in ideas of hierarchy, including Tim Dunne (University of Queensland), Andrew Phillips (University of Queensland), and Jason Sharma (Griffith University) have discussed and referred to this project, and we are discussing the possibility of developing collaborative extensions to it;
- International Relations scholars with expertise in East Asia, including David C. Kang (University of Southern California) with whom I gave a joint seminar in October 2013 exploring the interaction between materialist and normative dimensions of understanding the U.S. role in East Asian security; and Rosemary Foot (University of Oxford), with whom I am co-authoring a seminal paper reflecting on the state of the art and how to advance studies of the international relations of East Asia.
Sectors Transport

Description The chief scientific impact of this project has been in developing a social understanding of contemporary hegemonic power in the international system, and demonstrating the utility of this in analyzing a vital case study. In so doing, I have advanced associated fields of research, including international relations theory, strategic studies, and East Asian security. This project has stimulated individual and collaborative research of other scholars in cognate disciplines. In some key instances, we have embarked upon collaborative efforts to develop joint research projects. This project has thus far had a small impact on selected individuals and groups within government policy research, planning and making bodies in Australia, Japan and Singapore. Partly because of the ambitious nature of this project and the significant of its findings, I received and accepted the offer of a professorship at the Australian National University, which I took up in September 2013
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Transport