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The Concept of the State in International Relations

Philosophy, Sovereignty and Cosmopolitanism

Edited by Robert Schuett, Peter M. R. Stirk

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A critical reassessment of the concepts of the state and sovereignty in international relations theory

The concept of the state plays a central role in international relations, particularly in realist and neo-realist approaches. Yet, the meaning of the state is persistently taken to be self-evident by both advocates of the sovereign state and its critics. This volume counters this trend. It systematically considers the nature of the state, the concept of sovereignty and the challenges globalisation and cosmopolitanism.

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Introduction: The Concept of the State in International Relations, Peter M.R. Stirk
Chapter 1: International Law and Statehood: A Performative View, Janis Grzybowski & Martti Koskenniemi
Chapter 2: The State as a Universe of Discourse, Peter J. Steinberger
Chapter 3: Sovereignty and the Personality of the State, Jens Bartelson
Chapter 4: The State as Urban Myth: Governance without Government in the Global South, Oliver Jütersonke and Moncef Kartas
Chapter 5: ‘Decolonizing Sovereignty: Globalisation and the Return of Hyper-Sovereignty’, John M. Hobson
Chapter 6: The Concept of the State as a Community of Liability, Peter M.R. Stirk
Chapter 7: From Global Governance to Global Stateness, William E. Scheuerman
Conclusion: Open Societies, Cosmopolitanism, and the State as a Safeguard against Nationalism, Robert Schuett

About the Author

Robert Schuett has a Ph.D. from the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University, UK. His research interests are primarily based in political theory of international relations and security/strategic studies. He joined the Austrian Federal Civil Service in 2011.

Peter M. R. Stirk is Senior Lecturer in Politics at Durham University. His publications include The Politics of Military Occupation (Edinburgh University Press, 2009) and Twentieth-Century German Political Thought (Edinburgh University Press, 2006).


The concept of the state remains at one and the same time the most central and yet most elusive concepts in modern politics. This superb collection ranges across historical, Theoretical, and empirical landscapes, providing challenging and incisive insights into key issues of our time. A first-rate book.

- Michael C Williams, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs University of Ottawa, Canada

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