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Power, structural power, and American decline

Kitchen, Nicholas ORCID: 0000-0001-8784-9012 and Cox, Michael (2019) Power, structural power, and American decline. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 32 (6). pp. 734-752. ISSN 0955-7571

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Identification Number: 10.1080/09557571.2019.1606158


Over the past twenty years, debates surrounding American power have oscillated between celebrations of empire and laments of decline. What explains such wild fluctuations? This article argues that the power shifts debate rests on an underpinning concept of power based around relative capabilities that is theoretically not fit for purpose. We propose instead an approach to power shifts that locates power primarily in structural power. In doing so we show that developments in the character of the international system render structural advantage more significant to questions of international leadership than the balance of national capabilities. These developments also mitigate against systemic changes that might bring relative strength and structural position into greater alignment.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 Department of Politics and International Studies
Divisions: IGA: LSE IDEAS
IGA: United States Centre
International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2019 13:33
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 21:30

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