In his article, Barry Buzan attempts to relate the concept of International Society of the English school to the American Structural Realism and the Regime Theory. By doing so, Buzan argues that the two approaches will be enhanced by giving a normative aspect to Neorealism and to reconnect Regime Theory to its own tradition. The new approach has the advantage of explaining the complex and uneven expansion of the European international society toward a global international society.
1. International System and International Society
Buzan takes, as a starting point, the International Society definition of Hedley Bull and Adam Watson (Expansion of International Society, 1984): “a group of states (or, more generally, a group of independent political communities) which not merely form a system, in the sense that the behaviour of each is a necessary factor in the calculations of the others, but also have established by dialogue and consent common rules and institutions for the conduct of their relations, and recognize their common interest in maintaining these arrangements.” (p. 330) Although Bull and Watson’s definition offers a clear distinction between international system and society, it is not clear as to where the former acquires the latter. The international system is prior to, and necessary for, the development of an international society. To explain its origin, Buzan explores two different conceptions of society. Civilizational (Gemeinschaft): The society originates from tradition, common experience and culture, blood and identity. It is organic and homogeneous. This is the historical approach to society. Functional (Gesellschaft): Society is constructed and based on contractual relations. It is heterogeneous. This is the organizational view of society. Departing from the traditional explanation of the English school, which poses the development of international society on civilization, Buzan takes the path of the functional approach. At some point in their...
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