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The Meta-Power Paradigm

Impacts and Transformations of Agents, Institutions, and Social Systems-- Capitalism, State, and Democracy in a Global Context

Edited By Tom R. Burns and Peter M. Hall

This work presents, elaborates, and illustrates what is arguably the most important concept in the social sciences: power. It focuses particularly on a major class of power phenomena, meta-power, that is, power over power, transformative and structuring power. This encompasses powers to establish, reform, and transform social systems (institutions, power hierarchies, cultural formations, and socio-technical and infrastructural systems). Understanding meta-power is essential to the effective analysis of the formation of societal structures, their dynamics and evolution. This collection presents numerous illustrations and case studies at local, meso, and macro levels, showing how meta-powering is mobilized and operates in different contexts. The book should be of particular interest to business and management researchers, anthropologists, historians, legal scholars, political scientists, and, of course, sociologists.


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C H A P T E R 5: Meta-power and the Struggle over International Regimes: The Case of the Third World against Global Liberalism


155 C H A P T E R 5 Meta-power and the Struggle over International Regimes: The Case of the Third World against Global Liberalism Stephen D. Krasner What do “Third World” or developing countries want?1 More wealth. How can they get it? By adopting more economically rational policies. What should the North do? Facilitate these policies. How should the North approach global negotiations? With cautious optimism. What is the long-term prognosis for North-South relations? Hopeful, at least if economic development occurs. This is the common wisdom about relations between industrialized and developing areas in the United States and in much of the rest of the North. Within this fold there are intense debates among adherents of conventional liberal, basic human needs, and interdependence view- points. But the emphasis on economics at the expense of politics, on material well- being as opposed to power and control, pervades all of these orientations. In this chapter, I set forth an alternative perspective. I assume that Third World states, like all states in the international system, are concerned about vulnerability and threat; and I note that national political regimes in most almost all Third World countries are profoundly weak both internationally and domestically. This book chapter offers a very different set of answers to the questions posed in the preced- ing paragraph. Third World states want global power and control as much as wealth. One strategy for achieving this objective is to change the rules of the game in vari- ous international...

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