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  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: January 2010

4 - Reimagining the English school's triad


The survey in chapter 3 exposed four underlying conceptual dyads on which much of the discussion (and the confusion) about international and world society hang:

state and non-state levels, and whether or not the distinction between them is what defines the difference between international and world society;

physical (or mechanical) and social concepts of system, and whether the distinction along these lines between ‘international system’ and ‘international society’ should be retained, and/or carried over into one between ‘world system’ and ‘world society’;

society and community, and whether or not these two conceptions of social relations need to play a larger role in thinking about both international and world society, and what the implications of their doing so are for understanding pluralism and solidarism;

individuals and transnational actors as the units of analysis that define world society, and whether or not they can comfortably be considered together, or whether more analytical leverage is acquired by keeping them distinct.

The choices posed by these dyads need to be made explicit, and to be resolved in some way, before any clear sense can be made of English school theory as a social structural project. For the reasons given above, my starting position will be to reject the inclinations of the Vincentians and many of the non-English school users of world society, to construct world society in holistic terms that combine the state and non-state into a kind of higher, or better developed, social form.

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