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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Historical institutionalism offers original ways of thinking about the origins, evolution, and consequences of political institutions—including, international order. This chapter argues that a “rise and decline” theory of international order based solely on the distribution of power is inadequate. The idea that leading states periodically have found themselves in a position to build or at least shape international order is not in dispute. But the explanation for the variations in the character of orders depends on more than simply the presence of a powerful lead state. Moments of opportunity for order building open up and close. The character of the state that finds itself with the opportunity to build order also matters. Employing insights from historical institutionalism, this chapter directs attention to the temporal dynamics that shape international orders, including the timing and sequence of past events that set the stage for subsequent struggles over political institutions.

Keywords: international order, critical juncture, path dependence, increasing returns, evolutionary logics

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