Start Geo Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
geology dictionary - geography encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



geopolitical transition

  Although international relations is often portrayed as a sphere of anarchy, of innate disorder (see anarchism), political geographers and others have identified patterns in the development of modern international politics which they call geopolitical world orders. Geopolitical transitions are the short periods of change from one order to another. A geopolitical order is a relatively stable pattern of international relations such that most state behaviour is quite predictable. In a geopolitical transition new options are opened up and predictability is suspended until the new order and its stable political relations have been put into place. Hence geopolitical transitions are crucial periods of world politics around which international relations can be periodized.

Geopolitical transitions are constituted by the disintegration of one set of political practices and representations and the construction of their replacement. The classic case is the period 1944-46 when the grand alliance, which defeated Nazi Germany, collapsed and the Cold War resulted (Taylor, 1990). From the US perspective, the USSR which had so recently been a necessary ally in the fight against tyranny was very quickly converted into the new source of tyranny. Such a turnaround is typical of geopolitical transitions when friends become enemies and vice versa. More than any other concept, geopolitical transition challenges the supposed immutability of geopolitical factors in international relations. Contemporary interest in such periods stems from the end of the Cold War interpreted as leading to a contemporary geopolitical transition (Taylor, 1992a; Agnew and Corbridge, 1995).

The number of geopolitical transitions depends upon the identification of geopolitical world orders and this is disputed. No such orders are identified before 1815 because of the fluid nature of early modern international politics. However, the Congress of Vienna established the first international institution to order inter-state relations (the Concert of Europe) thus creating the first geopolitical order. From this time either three or four geopolitical orders are identified. Agnew and Corbridge (1995, pp. 19-23) define three: (i) 1915-75 the Concert of Europe — British Geopolitical Order, (ii) 1875-1945 the Geopolitical Order of Inter-Imperial Rivalry, and (iii) 1945-90 the Cold War Geopolitical Order. Taylor (1992b, pp. 34-6) defines four orders and transitions: (i) transition (1813-15) to World Order of Hegemony and Concert (1815-66), (ii) transition (1866-71) to World Order of Rivalry and Concert (1871-1904), (iii) transition (1904-07) to World Order of the British Succession (1907-44), and (iv) transition (1944-46) to Cold War World Order (1946-89). The specific difference largely revolves over the way in which the political and economic changes around the turn of the twentieth century are interpreted. More basically, this relates to the underlying theories used in the periodizations: Agnew and Corbridge employ a Gramscian approach to define hegemonies, Taylor employs a world-systems approach to define world hegemonies. (PJT)

References Agnew J. and Corbridge, S. 1995: Mastering space. London: Routledge. Taylor, P.J. 1990: Britain and the Cold War: 1945 as geopolitical transition. London: Pinter. Taylor, P.J. 1992a: Tribulations of transition. Professional Geographer 44: 10-3. Taylor, P.J. 1992b: Geopolitical world orders. In P.J. Taylor, ed., Political geography of the twentieth century. London: Belhaven.



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>


Other Terms : collective consumption | retailing, geography of | industrial revolution
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us