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Exploring the relationship between outer space and world politics: English School and regime theory perspectives

Stuart, Jill (2008) Exploring the relationship between outer space and world politics: English School and regime theory perspectives. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis uses regime theory and the English School of International Relations (and particularly the social constructivist reformulation by Buzan in From International to World Society: English School Theory and the Social Structure of Globalisation 2004) to address the question: Why have actors decided to cooperate on outer space issues, and what does that cooperation tell us about wider international politics and international society. Rational actors have at times determined that it is in their interest to coordinate activity for outer space. This coordination has led (either intentionally or unintentionally) to the creation of international regimes, and those regimes have conversely come to exert influence over actors' interests and behavior over time. Processes within international society (such as the rise, evolution, and decline of international society institutions, and shifts between pluralism and solidarism) also influence - and are influenced by - outer space politics. The thesis focuses on five case studies: geosynchronous orbit, the International Space Station, Global Navigational Satellite Systems, the company Sea Launch, and comets and asteroids. Pre-existing outer space treaties ("diffuse regimes") have established basic understandings between states about governance over outer space, and implicit or explicit regimes have also evolved to facilitate coordination amongst actors on the specific issue-areas of each case study. The tools used by regime theorists help explain the development of these various regimes and the relationship between them; however, because of regime theory's relatively narrow focus (on actors' rational interests in specific issue-areas) it provides few insights into how outer space politics are embedded in wider world politics and international society. An English School approach expands the analysis and puts into perspective how the Space Race was mutually constitutive of Cold War pluralist international society, and how space cooperation and commercialization over time also reflected and reinforced globalization and cooperative international society. However it is extremely difficult to operationalize the English School in order to draw more specific explanatory conclusions about individual case studies. It is necessary to use both approaches together to develop a thorough explanation of actors' behavior with regards to outer space politics, as well as an understanding of how outer space politics relate to wider world politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Political Science, International Relations
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > International Relations

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