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Research Project

Evaluating Power Political Repertoires

EPOS aims to bring about a systematic problem shift in how power politics are studied by moving analytical focus from states' power resources and systemic features of world politics to the actual repertoires through which states engage one another.

Themes

  • Security policy
  • International economics
  • Europe
  • Russia and Eurasia
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • South and Central America

Two closely intertwined developments loom large over contemporary world politics.

First, economic and military power is becoming less concentrated in the North Atlantic littoral. Second, globalization processes including changing communications technologies, production chains, and transportation vectors - lead many policymakers and analysts to search for new paradigms for understanding political power.

Some speak of 'soft power' or 'network power', and suggest that the nature of power itself is changing. This presents a challenge for scholars of international relations: Our dominant frameworks for understanding the first set of processes assume historical continuity - that the same basic dynamics operate in all power transitions across time and space. The wagers that undergird the second set of processes focus, in contrast, on historical discontinuity: They anticipate that contemporary shifts in world politics may play out very differently than those of the past because the nature of power is changing. Extant theories of world politics are therefore cut off from adjudicating between these different views.

Evaluating Power Political Repertoires (EPOS) aims to move beyond this impasse by advancing a systematic problem shift in how we study power politics: Rather than focusing on states' power resources and on how the systemic features of world politics condition certain types of power political behavior, EPOS focuses on the repertoires through which states engage one another. The project team draws from the well-developed analytic framework of contentious politics, but necessarily adapts it for the study of international relations. Thus, the project defines repertoires of power politics as the relatively stable array of tactics that states turn to when competing for influence. Recognizing that states pursue influence through repertoires opens up exciting avenues for understanding the dynamics of power-political competition.

Project Manager

Ole Jacob Sending
Research Professor, Head of Center for Geopolitics

Participants

Morten Skumsrud Andersen
Senior Research Fellow, Head of the Research Group on Global Order and Diplomacy
Morten Bøås
Research Professor
Iver B. Neumann
Former employee
Kristin Haugevik
Forskningssjef, Research Professor
Wrenn Yennie Lindgren
Senior Research fellow
Pernille Rieker
Research Professor
Elana Wilson Rowe
Research Professor
Kristian Lundby Gjerde
Senior Research Fellow
Tine Gade
Senior Research Fellow
Guri Bang
Former employee
Jakub M. Godzimirski
Research Professor

Articles

Articles
New research
Articles
New research

From secret negotiations to Tweetlomacy

Just a few years ago, the Brexit negotiations would probably have been conducted behind closed doors. Today, however, such negotiations also unfold in real time – on Twitter. Senior Research Fellow Øyvind Svendsen (NUPI) has taken a closer look at what this entails.
  • Diplomacy
  • Foreign policy
  • Europe
  • The EU
Boris Johnsons Twitter account Twitter Diplomacy Foto NTB_169.jpg
Articles
New research
Articles
New research

The strategic importance of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Tokyo’s take

While the idea of the Indo-Pacific as more than just a geographic space is only recently taking root in the Nordics and broader Europe, it has already been hotly discussed as a strategically important arena in foreign and security policy circles in Asia for several years.

  • Security policy
  • Trade
  • Diplomacy
  • Foreign policy
  • Asia
Bildet viser Japans president Abe og USAs president Trump
News
News

Japan and China: Competing Realities

China has played a central role in Japanese identity-making for centuries - what of its role today? asks Wrenn Yennie Lindgren (NUPI) in a new article.

  • Defence
  • Security policy
  • Diplomacy
  • Asia
  • Conflict
Bildet viser Mount Fuji i Japan

New publications

Publications
Publications
Chapter

Afterword: International Organizations and Technologies of Statehood

The afterword discusses the contributions to the symposium by drawing links to cognate fields such as international relations, international law, and organisational studies. It reflects on the many insightful observations and arguments in the different contributions, and points to areas for future research, but also to areas where more extensive engagement with cognate fields may have been warranted.

  • Peace, crisis and conflict
  • Humanitarian issues
  • Global governance
  • Human rights
AfterwordInternationalOrganizationsandTechnologiesofStatehood_large.jpg
  • Peace, crisis and conflict
  • Humanitarian issues
  • Global governance
  • Human rights
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

Performing Statehood through Crises: Citizens, Strangers, Territory

This article applies the growing International Relations literature on state performance and performativity to the question of how practitioners categorize different kinds of crises. The aim is to add value to the crisis literature by paying more attention to how performances are staged for multiple audiences, how statehood is produced as a collective (as opposed to an individual) body, and how and why one and the same state actor performs statehood in different ways. Drawing on interviews and participant observation, we discuss how one state apparatus, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), performs statehood during different types of crisis. The MFA has institutionalized crisis management in three very different ways, depending on whether it defines the crisis as a security crisis, a humanitarian crisis, or a civilian crisis. Different crises have different audiences, are performed in different repertoires, and produce three different aspects of the state that we name, respectively, caretaking, do-gooding, and sovereignty. Bringing the performativity literature to the study of crises gives us a better understanding of the statecraft that goes into using crises as opportunities to make visible and strengthen the state as a presence in national and global social life. Conversely, our focus on the specificity of various state performances highlights how the performance literature stands to gain from differentiating more clearly between the straightforward performing of practices, on the one hand, and the performing of state identity by means of the same practices, on the other.

  • Peace, crisis and conflict
  • Humanitarian issues
performingStatehoodThroughCrises.jpg
  • Peace, crisis and conflict
  • Humanitarian issues
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

The Relationship Between Narratives and Security Practices: Pushing the Boundaries of Military Instruments in Japan

Japanese security policy has undergone significant changes lately. Japanese policymakers have recently argued over advancing Japan’s Self-Defense Forces with new weapon systems. In particular, the Abe government has decided to pur- chase long-range cruise missiles for its new F-35A jetfighters, and to reconstruct a newly-built helicopter carrier into an aircraft carrier. While specific policy proposals continued di- viding policymakers and other stakeholders, the underlying story specifying Japan’s place in East Asia, the rise of China, the threat of North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, the tight security relationship with the United States and the vulnerability of the Japanese archipelago has faced lit- tle core criticism. The lack of alternative national security narratives suggests the emergence of a Japanese security consensus in the mid-2010s. The strength of the narrative in deterring policymakers to refrain from critique, through the significant costs incurred by opposition, could also sug- gest a hegemonic narrative (but not necessarily a consensus). We find that the dominant narrative provided a necessary foundation for unorthodox policy proposals, which arguably enabled the Abe government to push through military in- strument expansions in the Self-Defense Forces, a move far from politically sustainable only a decade earlier.

  • Security policy
  • Asia
  • Security policy
  • Asia
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

corporaexplorer: An R package for dynamic exploration of text collections

This article presents the 'corporaexplorer' open source software. 'corporaexplorer' is an R package that uses the Shiny GUI (graphical user interface) framework for dynamic exploration of text collections. The package is designed for use with a wide range of text collections. The intended primary audience are qualitatively oriented researchers in the social sciences and humanities who rely on close reading of textual documents as part of their academic activity. However, the package should also be useful for those doing quantitative textual research and wishing to have convenient access to the texts under study. Main elements in the interactive apps: 1) Input: The ability to filter the corpus and/or highlight documents, based on search patterns (in main text or metadata, including date range). 2) Corpus visualisation: An interactive heat-map of the corpus, based on the search input (calendar heat-map or heat-map where each tile represents one document, optionally grouped by metadata properties). 3) Document visualisation and display: Easy navigation to and within full-text documents with pattern matches highlighted. 4) Document retrieval: Extraction of subsets of the corpus in a format suitable for close reading. While collecting and preparing the text collections to be explored requires some familiarity with R programming, using the Shiny apps for exploring and extracting documents from the corpus should be fairly intuitive also for those with no programming knowledge, once the apps have been set up by a collaborator.

Publications
Publications
Scientific article

Frustrated Sovereigns: The agency that makes the world go around

In this special issue we build on the growing interest in recognition to suggest that a shift from recognition to misrecognition open up new theoretical perspectives. Our point of departure is that failure – not obtaining the recognition one seeks – is built into the very desire for recognition. Thus understood, the desire for recognition is not simply a desire for social goods, for status or for statehood, but for agency. This, we suggest, is Hegel’s fundamental lesson. On this basis, we argue that the international system is defined by a symbolic structure organised around an always unrealisable ideal of sovereign agency. We discuss the implications of such a focus on the workings of misrecognition and the ideal of sovereign agency, and introduce the key themes – focused on failure and the negative, the striving for unity and actorhood, and sovereignty and the international system – that the contributors address in their respective articles.

  • Governance
  • Governance
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

New Dynamics in Japan-Russia Energy Relations 2011-2017

Since the triple disaster in Japan in 2011, the energy dimension of Japan-Russia relations in the Russian Far East (RFE) has developed at a more rapid pace. The integration of the energy markets of the world’s top liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer, Japan, and major energy exporter, Russia, has paralleled a warmer bilateral political climate and been accelerated by Russia’s turn to the East. In the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis, the globe’s energy landscape has been significantly altered and both Russia and Japan have faced constraints economically and in terms of bilateral cooperation. Questions remain about how bilateral energy relations will develop in the face of competition from Japan’s traditional energy suppliers and ongoing Japanese government efforts to diversify energy sources. Is energy prompting a stronger bilateral political bond or just fostering a limited partnership in this area? In considering the consequences of the Fukushima and Ukraine crises on Japan-Russia energy relations and the energy dimension of Russia’s pivot to Asia, the topic is placed in a wider context of new dynamics in Japan-Russia relations.

  • Russia and Eurasia
  • Asia
  • Energy
  • Russia and Eurasia
  • Asia
  • Energy
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

French status seeking in a changing world. Taking on the role as the guardian of the liberal order

France has a long history as a traditional European great power. But is this still the case today? The analysis in this article shows how French exceptionalism, often referred to as ‘grandeur’ is still the guiding principle of French foreign policy, but that it is being practised differently today. President Macron may be right in arguing that ‘France is back’, but it is important to note that modern French power projection or status seeking takes place through a set of very different mechanisms. The key argument put forward in this article is that French status is increasingly based on a type of symbolic power, and to understand the mechanisms through which this power is managed, insights from social psychology and Social Identification Theory (SIT) are helpful. SIT points to three different strategies for maintaining a position within a social hierarchy that may also be valid for international politics: social mobility, social competition and social creativity. While France has adopted different types of strategies in earlier periods (social mobility in the immediate post-war years and social competition during the Cold War), the analysis in this article shows that French foreign policy practices are now increasingly being legitimised through the creation of a new narrative. Interestingly, this narrative consists of the current French political leadership’s eagerness to take on the role as ‘the guardian of the liberal order’, which fits nicely with what SIT identify as a strategy of social creativity.

  • Europe
  • Europe
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

States before relations: On misrecognition and the bifurcated regime of sovereignty

The symbolic structure of the international system, organised around sovereignty, is sustained by an institutional infrastructure that shapes how states seek sovereign agency. We investigate how the modern legal category of the state is an institutional expression of the idea of the state as a liberal person, dependent on a one-off recognition in establishing the sovereign state. We then discuss how this institutional rule co-exists with the on-going frustrated search for recognition in terms of socio-political registers. While the first set of rules establishes a protective shield against others, regardless of behaviour, the second set of rules specify rules for behaviour of statehood, which produces a distinct form of misrecognition. States are, at one level, already recognised as sovereign and are granted rights akin to individuals in liberal thought, and yet they are continually misrecognised in their quest to actualise the sovereign agency they associate with statehood. We draw on examples from two contemporary phenomena - fragile states, and assertions of non-interference and sovereignty from the populist right and non-Western great powers, to discuss the misrecognition processes embedded in the bifurcated symbolic structure of sovereignty, and its implications for debates about hierarchy and sovereignty in world affairs.

  • Governance
  • International organizations
  • United Nations
  • Governance
  • International organizations
  • United Nations
Publications
Publications
Scientific article

Identity Politics and the East China Sea: China as Japan's 'Other'

This article contributes to the relational IR literature on identity politics and Sino-Japanese relations. Theoretically, we develop Rumelili's 2004 framework for studying modes of differentiation by incorporating the sectoral characteristics of key discourse signs. Empirically, we apply this framework to the construction of Self and Other in the official Japanese security discourse regarding the Senkaku Islands dispute from 2010–2014, a period of dispute climax that is meaningful for studying the (re)production of Japan's understanding of China. The inclusiveness of the discourse signs that Japan uses to construct China possibly opens up for a positive evolution of Sino-Japanese relations, as there is space for progress if China's behavior—and Japan's interpretation of it—proves to be more peaceful, transparent, and law-abiding. The findings also suggest, however, that the strong sense of superiority in Japan (and China) vis-à-vis a subordinate Other may not bode well for Sino-Japanese relations.

  • Security policy
  • Asia
  • Oceans
  • Security policy
  • Asia
  • Oceans