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Hedley Bull and global governance: A note on IR theory

Makinda, S.M. (2002) Hedley Bull and global governance: A note on IR theory. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 56 (3). pp. 361-371.

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of Hedley Bull's premier essays on International Relations (IR), published in Australian Outlook (Bull 1972). This piece developed Bull's most important argument about how he conceived of IR, and covered the range of actors in international politics, IR approaches and methodologies, and the relationship between theory and practice. This year is also the 25th anniversary of Bull's most influential publication, The Anarchical Society. The Anarchical Society defines international society, explains its major institutions and their role in maintaining international order, and explores possible alternatives to the states system. Besides these two seminal works, Bull published numerous works on many aspects of IR. Despite Bull's efforts to look beyond the states system and consider the roles of non-state actors, critics have accused him of distorting the development of IR, being state-centric, marginalising dissenting voices and ignoring the forces of global transformation. This commentary seeks to explain the centrality of Bull's ideas in global governance.1 It argues that while Bull is best known for his ideas on international society, he also canvassed some of the issues discussed under global governance, such as challenges to the states system and the significance of civil society. Bull's thinking provides insights for understanding shifts in state agency, the role of the global civil society and controversies over human rights.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Politics and International Studies
Publisher: Routledge
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