Great Power Politics

Conceptualizing Hierarchy and Resilience in Global Power Politics

Marlene Laruelle, GW, Yuval Weber, TAMU, Edward Lemon, TAMU

“Conceptualizing Hierarchy and Resilience in Global Power Politics” studies the components of great power competition by developing theory, collecting original qualitative and quantitative data and pursuing empirical testing to understand how great powers develop transnational topdown hierarchical political orders with subordinate states, how those same great powers engage in horizontal competition, and how smaller state actors negotiate the demands and opportunities presented by great powers. 

It addresses the following questions:

  • How do states, versus their peer competitors at the regional and global levels of politics, pursue and achieve a favorable balance of power?
  • How do we measure transnational stratification and differentiation between states to identify the extent of hierarchy in global power politics and model shifts in multi-level balances of power?
  • How do variations in hierarchical relationships generate different social, moral, and behavioral outcomes?
  • Do transnational hierarchies emerge because of structural anarchy or despite it?
  • What tools of statecraft and influence do great and regional powers use with smaller states to shape or limit the political, economic, and security decisions of subordinate states, and how do weaker actors navigate, leverage, resist or escape existing hierarchies?
  • How are existing hierarchies sustained or dismantled?

This project will show how international and regional orders develop in theory and in practice using cases from Central Asia, with the view to applying the lessons learned to different problem sets elsewhere in the world. Central Asia is ideally suited to this project because it possesses land borders with two great powers, Russia and China, while additionally attracting substantial interest from several other powers, most prominently the United States.

The Minerva Research Initiative supports research that focuses on topics of particular relevance to U.S. national security.