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Title: The image of the state and the expansion of the international system
Author: Scott, Amy
ISNI:       0000 0001 2410 120X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2006
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This thesis presents a history of the concept of the state as a political community. Beginning with the early-nineteenth century and using debates about state formation and state recognition as its source material, it uses the language of English-speaking policy makers and political commentators to explore understandings of statehood across different time periods. The thesis argues that the meaning and connotations of the state have changed significantly in the past two hundred years, as it has become more salient in images of world politics. In particular, the state has evolved to incorporate the idea of the 'nation,' such that when governments act they are perceived to have their populations 'in tow.' These conceptual changes are surprisingly recent, solidified particularly since the Second World War. Four broad themes structure the argument in each chapter. First, the historical 'nation' has become an increasingly dominant way of conceptualising the populations of states. Second, the state has come to be construed as the inevitable unit of world politics, corroborated by the assumption that each one arises out of a pre-existing 'nation.' Third, the state has increasingly been perceived as a unitary actor with its own consciousness, separate from 'government.' Finally, the state with its nationalist implications, has come to define the dynamics of international politics, a means of simplifying an ever more complex world. The thesis roots contemporary (English language) understandings of the state in a particular historical and political context, defined by the contestation between 'American' and 'British' worldviews, the triumph of liberal internationalism and the multiple interests at stake in the image of the state as a nation. The thesis thus exposes the intensely political nature of language and the complacency of International Relations with regard to its own use of words and conventional narratives.
Supervisor: Welsh, Jennifer ; Williams, David G. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International relations ; Nation-state ; Nationalism ; State, The