What is a (global) polity?
Review of International Studies, 36(S1) pp. 157–180.
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Despite sustained theoretical and empirical criticism of ‘statism’, a recognisable model of political structure other of hierarchy and anarchy (the models that underpin the state system-model) has long been lacking. Even many proponents of radical transformation of the international system often remain ‘post-international’, describing world politics essentially in terms of complications to the international system. This article agrees that a new point of departure is needed but offers a different model of political structure by redefining the term ‘polity’ – a term which is increasingly used to capture non-territorial political entities neither constituted by hierarchy nor by the lack of it. With the new definition building on Waltz’s theory of theory as a ‘picture, mentally formed’ in order to simplify a domain, a polity is deemed to exist when a set of subjects are oriented towards a common ‘governance-object’. The new polity model is applied illustratively to the idea of a global polity and a new polity research agenda of international relations is suggested.
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