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Managing Rising Powers: The Role of Status Concerns

CIS Seminar Series

CIS welcomes Deborah Larson, Professor of Political Science at UCLA.

The discussant for this talk is Jacques Hymans, Professor of International Relations, USC. 


Historically, the rise of new powers has been accompanied by geopolitical rivalry and war. In the current era, the emerging powers may free-ride or act as spoilers in global governance.  We argue that the rising powers will be more likely to cooperate if their concerns about relative status and identity are addressed.  States that have increased their military and economic power want enhanced recognition and influence.  According to social identity theory (SIT) in social psychology, whether rising powers seek status through competition or cooperation depends in part on the response of the established powers.  If rising states perceive the basis for status distinctions as legitimate, and do not believe that they can attain superiority over the leading states in the near future, they may opt for a social creativity strategy of seeking preeminence through soft power, norm entrepreneurship, or diplomatic initiatives.  Turkey, Brazil, and India may be following such a strategy.

About Deborah Larson:

Deborah Larson draws upon historical, psychological, and political evidence to understand foreign policy decision-making. Her professorship in the Department is supported by the International Studies and Overseas Programs administration atUCLA. Professor Larson's first book, Origins of Containment(Princeton), traces the development of Cold War belief systems by studying postwar U.S. policymakers from a cognitive psychological perspective. Anatomy of Mistrust (Cornell) considers game theory, exchange theory, and bargaining theory to explain how mistrust prevented the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. from reaching agreements in the early Cold War. She is currently developing a framework for evaluating the quality of political judgments in the profoundly uncertain international environment. Professor Larson teaches a graduate seminar on the making of American foreign policy, and offers undergraduates lectures on foreign policy and peace and war. She serves on the editorial boards of International Studies Quarterly and International Interactions.