Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics

Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics

Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics

Observing International Relations: Niklas Luhmann and World Politics

Synopsis

Observing International Relations draws upon the modern systems theory of society, developed by Niklas Luhmann, to provide new perspectives on central aspects of contemporary world society and to generate theoretically informed insights on the possibilities and limits of regulation in global governance. The authors develop a Luhmannian theory of world society by contrasting it with competing notions of international society, critically discussing the use of modern systems theory in international relations theory and assessing its treatment of central concepts within international relations, such as power, sovereignty, governance and war.

Excerpt

All books have a (sometimes quite long) history before they are published. As far as can be remembered, the work leading to this present volume originated at some point during a snowstorm in Iceland in early 1998, with one of this volume’s editors and one of its authors driving through it and arguing about the usefulness of trying to bring Luhmannian theory to ir audiences (and even more intensively about the wisdom of driving fast on icy roads while seeing nothing). the argument was then continued in a more systematic fashion in other contexts, gradually bringing in the authors of this volume at some point. in addition to a number of panels at annual meetings of the International Studies Association and the British International Studies Association, most original papers were presented either at a workshop in Darmstadt in November 1999 (funded by the World Society Foundation in Zürich), or at an ecpr workshop in Copenhagen in April 2000 (co-organized by Mathias Albert and Chris Brown). With originally no publication project attached to these events, an increasing interest voiced on the subject at various occasions during 2001 led to the constitution of the editorial team and to re-approaching this volume’s authors to either revise their work or, in some cases, provide new contributions.

The realization of this volume would not have been possible without the support of The New International Relations series editors, Barry Buzan and Richard Little. Thanks also go to Heidi Bagtazo and Grace McInnes for their guidance and efforts on the publisher’s side. Special thanks to Chris Brown, not only for co-organizing the Copenhagen meeting, but particularly for reliably appearing at most Albert-organized conferences and workshops and enriching them in more than an academic way. the final preparation of the manuscript would not have been possible without the intensive work by Jochen Walter at the University of Bielefeld. Very special thanks to him.

The Editors
Bielefeld/Bochum
May 2003 . . .

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