Referring to the organization of the international system after the Second World War, Kindleberger argued that 'stensibly, the system was' organized by rules and international institutions. In reality, it was led by the United States"
This statement captures the essence of hegemonic stability theory (HST), which is the identification of a causal link between the leader/hegemon and the organization/management of the international system. Since the early statements of the theory, the independent variable hegemony has been used to explain a wide array of phenomena ranging from the openness of the markets to the emergence of international regimes and the maintenance of international order1.
Not only had the nature of the dependent variable changed over time. The interpretation of hegemony developed as well. Theoretical developments flourished from three lines of enquiry. The first deals with the issue of identifying who the hegemon is and which power resources are needed for the emergence and the maintenance of its hegemony. The issue of demise or decline of hegemonic power is connected with these questions. The second deals with the conditions under which secondary states accept to acquiesce in the hegemonic power instead of challenging or balancing it. This line of enquiry, then, focuses on the mechanisms to get legitimacy. The third line of inquiry is concerned with the manifestation of hegemonic power. Under this perspective, hegemony is conceived of as either control over outcomes in behavioural terms (Gilpin, 1971,1981; Krasner, 1976; Keohane, 1984) or as control over the political agenda and the environment in which behaviour takes place (Strange, 1987; Nye, 1990)2. Drawing on these lines... [continues]
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