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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.


Beyer, C. (2009). Hegemony, Equilibrium and Counterpower: A Synthetic Approach. International Relations, 23(3), 411-427.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Oct 7, 2009
Publication Date 2009-09
Deposit Date Nov 13, 2014
Journal International Relations
Print ISSN 0047-1178
Electronic ISSN 1741-2862
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 23
Issue 3
Pages 411-427
Keywords Constructivism, Equilibrium; Hegemony; Realism; Structural realism; Terrorism; Kenneth Waltz
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