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Hegemony, Equilibrium and Counterpower: A Synthetic Approach

Beyer, Cornelia


Cornelia Beyer


This article claims that realist and constructivist ideas are compatible. Structural realism is needed to understand the constraining and stabilizing role of material factors. Furthermore, it detects process in a law-like tendency towards international power equilibrium which is achieved via balancing. Constructivism, in turn, highlights the importance of ideas and norms as engines for change and the creative role of agency. The article therefore combines a materialist and an idealist perspective. It both detects elements of stability and argues for necessary improvements in current international relations (IR) by looking at the issues of United States hegemony, the rise of new challengers and the threat of sub-state international terrorism. This article, therefore, takes up important claims made by Kenneth Waltz on realism, hegemony and terrorism, and interprets them in the light of IR theory today. It is argued that structural realism and Waltz's ideas are still important and viable, but that we need to combine them with additional perspectives, notably constructivism.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Sep 30, 2009
Print ISSN 0047-1178
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 411 - 427
APA6 Citation Beyer, C. (2009). Hegemony, Equilibrium and Counterpower: A Synthetic Approach. International Relations, 23(3), 411 - 427. doi:10.1177/0047117809340499