International Organization


Anomaly and commonplace in European political expansion: realist and institutional accounts

David Stranga1

a1 Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Iowa, Iowa City.


The global expansion of the European state system suggests strong connections between political “life chances” and international status. Polities recognized as sovereign within the Western international community are much less likely than unrecognized polities to be colonized and are much less likely than dependencies to merge or dissolve. These variations in stability are difficult to understand through balance-of-power politics. They may be more plausibly explained through the institutional structure of the state system and, in particular, the organization of the system as a community of mutual recognition. Sovereign members of this community are treated in fundamentally different ways than are those seen as outside Western state society or as the dependent possessions of sovereign states.