The growing fragmentation of the world political system, the decreasing compliance of the states with world policies like trade and monetary policy, the growing number of unresolved conflicts and of unmanaged world problems, the existing reservations about the multipolar turn that political leaders and experts claim as the most probable exit from the present political disorder, call for reconsidering the study of order and change in the world political system and for developing empirical research to understand where the world political system is moving to.
During the past 50 years, the political order that the coalition of the United States and the Western countries created after the Second World War has been loosing grip on the world political system. The policies and regimes that policy-making institutions like the IMF, the GATT/WTO, and the UN created, under the leadership of the United States and the Western countries, to rule over world problems have been going through a process of decreasing capability to keep stability, provide growth, and curb violence.
What next? Political scientists debate about two potential political orders of the next world system, the replication of the hegemonic/leadership order and the regional/multipolar order. In the former, competition and conflict between world powers and coalitions will take the world into the next order. In the latter, the rising of regional powers will transfer the world to multipolarity and interconnected regional orders, an unprecedented form of world order. Beyond debate, empirical research to demonstrate the validity of the two outlooks and to understand the process and timing of transition to each of the two orders is missing.
The aim of the Section is twofold. It aims at exploring the state of the knowledge that has been developed by the researchers associated to the two outlooks. It aims at stimulating the empirical analysis of the political conditions that, under the impact of social, technological and material transformations, drive the exit from the current world political order and the construction of the next one.
Scholars like Gilpin (1981), Modelski (1999), Thompson (2006), and Ikenberry (2001), drawing on Dehio, Gramsci, Kindleberger, and others, proposed understanding the order of the contemporary world system as founded on the hegemony of a world power and its coalition. Compliance with the order created by the hegemonic state and its coalition does not last for long since the resources and capabilities to provide fundamental public goods and exercise the Gramscian function of political direction undergo a process of erosion and de-legitimation. Opposite coalitions arise and strive to replace the declining one.
So far as the present world politics is at this stage of dis-order, empirical research is needed to answer to questions like the following ones. Is the coalition of states that will replace the existing order in the making? Which state has the capabilities to become the hegemonic power and which states will join in the coalition that is going to defy the declining (Western/American) one? What principles and project of order want the challenging hegemonic power and its coalition establish in the future world? Do the two opposite coalitions go soon to the confrontation that will put one of them into the leadership/hegemonic role? What kind of confrontation will they engage in?
Drawing on a large body of knowledge about the regional dimension of international relations, scholars like Buzan and Waever (2003), Katzenstein (2005), and Telò (2013; 2016) assert, instead, that the decline of the American power, which had a short stop after the fall of the Berlin Wall turning the United States into unipolar power, is giving up to a multipolar world system structured by interconnected regional orders. Regional order projects arise thanks to the assertive action of states like China, Russia, India, Turkey, Iran, South Africa, Nigeria, not to speak of the European regional order that is advanced by Germany and France. Regional orders are supplementing the order vacuum that is the leftover of the bipolar order and the short-lived unipolar order of the post-Berlin-wall-fall years.
So far as the present world politics is at this turning point, empirical research is needed to answer to following questions. Are rising regional orders fixing the bugs that the policy-making institutions of the hegemonic world did not fix? How regional orders will keep up with the unitary world that the globalization process has brought in? What principles and values of political order do the powers and policy-making institutions of different regions agree on? Are interconnected regions able to replace the institutions, organisations and regimes that in the past sixty years have diffused norms, standards and policies all over the globe?
Panels are invited on three main research issues: (1) whether the world system will exit from the present dis-order to a new hegemonic order through a peaceful and institutional process or through violent confrontation like the past global wars, (2) whether it will exit to a multipolar world structured by interconnected regional orders, and (3) whether the on-going change of the world system drives Europe towards one of the two future world orders?
Potential Chairs of the panels on hegemonic transition are Ivor Neumann (co-author of a recent article on hegemony in the European Journal of International Relations) and Fulvio Attinà, Section Chair. Potential chair of the panels on transition to regional orders are Mario Telò (author of chapters and editor of books on contemporary regionalism) and Barry Buzan or Ole Waever (authors of chapters and co-authors of books on regionalism). Potential chair of the panels on the change of the world system and Europe’s response are Yan Shaohua, Section Co-chair, and Stephan Keukeleire (author of research studies on European foreign policy).