The Waltzian ordering principle and international change: A two-dimensional model

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4 Scopus citations


In his work on structural realism, Kenneth Waltz developed a theory of international order that is admired for its parsimony but criticized for its simplicity. Using his ordering principle as a foundation, I critique and extend his theory by constructing a model of international order with two dimensions: one of political centralization and the other of segmentary/functional differentiation. The resulting map locates different configurations of order and highlights four ideal-types: mechanical anarchy, organic hierarchy, mechanical hierarchy and organic anarchy. I then use the two-dimensional map and related ideal-types to outline two different processes of international change — a classical path and a modern path — that were invisible in the Waltzian model. This article is thus a contribution to the developing literature on conceptualizing different forms of international order and the dynamics of international change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-152
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Anarchy
  • Waltz
  • heteronomy
  • hierarchy
  • international change
  • international order

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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