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New Rising World Powers (PO975)

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Topics covered

The following is an indicative list of topics; the precise seminar content and order may change slightly from year to year.

  • The impact of rising states on existing hegemonic powers – historical precedents and current challenges
  • The nation state in the developing world in an era of globalization and problems of democratization
  • Doing comparative politics, assessing democracy, comparing developmental states with coordinated market economies
  • Liberal or Illiberal Democracy in Mexico?
  • Liberal or Illiberal Democracy in India?
  • Liberal or Illiberal Democracy in Brazil?
  • Liberal or Illiberal Democracy in Russia?
  • Liberal or Illiberal Democracy in South Africa?
  • Illiberal Democracy in China?
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in Mexico, and Mexican foreign policy
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in Brazil, and Brazilian Foreign Policy
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in India, and Indian Foreign Policy
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in South Africa, and South African Foreign Policy
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in Russia, and Russian Foreign Policy
  • Developmental State or Coordinated National Capitalism in China?
  • BRICSAM, the G8 and the G20: Diplomatic Interactions

This module contains elements that draw on core elements of the different degree programmes – international relations, international political economy, international security, comparative politics, etc. It will look at the political systems, political economy and international relations of 6 rising world powers from (largely) the developing world.

These world powers are sometimes known by the acronym BRICSAM: Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, Mexico. The first four of these were identified by Goldman Sachs in 2001 as potential economic powers of the future. Later they were given a more formal status when in 2007 the German presidency of the G7 initiated the Heiligendamm process of formal dialogue with them, as well as South Africa and Mexico, during the G7 summit. In return these states also have begun to hold their own summits on the margins of the G7/8 so as to consult with each other on common positions. Thus a set of new poles is emerging in international politics.

Programme content

This module will first of all focus on the domestic political systems of these states, viewed through the conceptual lens of ‘liberal or illiberal democracy’. It will examine and compare the different forms of democracy that they each claim to practise or to which they claim to aspire. Then it will turn to their domestic political economies. Again a common set of conceptual lenses will be used, this time those of the ‘developmental state’ syndrome and the concept of different national ‘varieties’ of capitalism.

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The module will conclude by looking at the foreign policy interactions of these states, so as to develop insights into the likely impact of their rise on world politics. To focus the perspective, we will also look at historical precedents of the impact of rising powers in earlier periods of world history, particularly the impact of rising Germany on Europe at the end of the 19th century.

Module Director:
Peter Ferdinand

CATS: 40

Sample reading list (PDF Document)