Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Anthony Payne and Nicola Phillips
Chapter 1: Ideologies of governance
The ideological character of the contemporary governance of the international system has been shaped by many factors, but principally by the interests and ideology of the United States (US) after it became the leading world power in 1945, and additionally by the traditions of economic liberalism which go back to discourses, contexts and institutions developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, at a time when Britain was the rising and then leading power. Both will be discussed in this chapter. The international system combines the international economy and the international state system, and states remain core actors in both (Thompson 2008). As the most powerful player in the international system, the United States has played a major part in creating and sustaining the evolving system of rules which has governed the international system. Its ideological preferences have been fairly prominently displayed, and for alternatives to succeed they have first had to gain US approval. The United States however is not the sole source of governance in the international system. The three main modes of governance - markets, hierarchies and networks (Thompson et al. 1991) - create structures with their own logic and consequences, which put constraints on the United States as well as on other states in the international system. These structures are not neutral but have their own ideological character, creating a predisposition to particular kinds of solutions.
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