on September 12, 1999
Robert Keohane is one of the top five International Relations theorists today. His book "After Hegemony", written in 1984, is considered to be the iniciator of the neoliberal institutionalist school of IR. In this book, Keohane shows that although states live in an anarchic world and are racional actors, they can cooperate with each other through institutions. This book revolutionalised the field and opened a fierce debate on cooperation that lasts until now. A very interesting book written by a master in the field - that is enough recommendation.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2002
In After Hegemony neoliberal institutionalist Robert O. Keohane deals with the 'central political dilemma': How to organize international cooperation without hegemony? Or in other words, is cooperation possible in the post-hegemonic world? Keohane audaciously contends that cooperation is possible without hegemony since international regimes make this cooperation possible. In this sense, he criticizes hegemonic stability theory (HST) since HST necessitates a hegemon for regime maintenance specifically and for international cooperation in general. This book, however, might not be considered as a fundamental criticism of the realist theory since it accepts basic realist premises of international cooperation. For instance, he takes states as the major actors in international politics in which they have interest maximizing goals. On the other hand, Keohane also basically argues that 'although hegemony can facilitate cooperation, it is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for it...hegemony is less important for the continuation of cooperation, once after began, than for its creation'.In this respect, he differentiates hegemon's role in creation of international regimes from their maintenance. While he keeps hegemonic power important in creating regimes he does not see hegemon so significant for the their maintenance. What are the functions and/or benefits of international regimes? Institutions/regimes provide information, decrease transaction costs, monitor compliance, create issue linkages and prevent cehating. Then, they serve states' self-interests and generate international cooperation. Fear of retaliation and search for reputation are the key reasons why states eschew to break the rules of international regimes. The concept of 'bounded rationality' is also important in Keohane's functionalist theory of regimes. In this framework, states are willing to uphold international regimes for their self-interests. According to him 'bounded rationality' relaxes the strict assumptions of rationality and they make states emphatically interdependent to each other. Then it leads to shifts in state preferences and they will be more likely to cooperate by means of international regimes. In this respect, Keohane tends generally to see interdependence as a beneficial element for international cooperation. Moreover, After Hegemony have case studies in three issue areas; trade, money, and oil. Keohane examines international regimes in these areas for post-hegemonic period when the US power began to decline by the early 1970s. He finds hegemonic stability theory relevant for oil while he does not for the issue areas of trade and money. in this sense, he also point out the limits and possibilities of both HST and his regime theory.Overarall, he makes the point: non-hegemonic cooperation is difficult but not impossible.
1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2003
Hegemony is a popular buzz word in international politics these days. Talking heads throw it around every Sunday morning. So one might expect a book entitled After Hegemony to be discussion on American foreign policy "after hegemony." In this case - Wrong! This is a nearly 20 year old book with a title that is currently a trendy topic. And it deals with political economy and "regime" formation, such as international monetary regime, international trade regime, and international oil regime, how these regimes were founded during the time period the author considers the time of US economic (and military) hegemony (the 1950's and 60's) and how they evolved during the years after US hegemony had passed according to the author.
For students and academics who are interested in the political and economic theory of how organizations are created and evolve, how "rational actors" (governments) behave on the macro scale, how preponderance of power allows a nation to create regimes (that is rules sets) that favor its policies, how these regimes become self-perpetuating, this is the book. It is an academic analysis of the subjects.
If you are looking for something relating to the oft discussed current "American Hegemony" and its likely impact on US and world relations, this is not the book. Look on.