What is the polity? A roundtable

Yale H. Ferguson, Richard W. Mansbach, Robert A. Denemark, Hendrik Spruyt, Barry Buzan, Richard Little, Janice Gross Stein, Michael Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The sovereign state became the dominant political form in a relatively brief period that began in Westphalian Europe and continued with European colonization. Contemporary states face increased challenges from inside and outside, and a global crisis of authority looms. Although the state as a form is highly variable and not about to disappear, a growing number and variety of other polities are moving toward center stage. The initiators of this roundtable asked several distinguished social scientists interested in historical perspective how they might redraw the map of global political space to reflect better current polities, boundaries, and identities and what future changes in that map they might foresee. Each contributor approached the questions in distinctive ways. Robert A. Denemark argues for more attention to world system history. Hendrik Spruyt looks for historical sociological insights into international systems change. Barry Buzan and Richard Little predict a rapidly shifting world of postmodern states and a different zone of conflict. Janice Gross Stein focuses on the privatization of security. Michael Mann finds that states as 'polymorphous' entities still have a future. Yale H. Ferguson and Richard W. Mansbach close with a discussion of their 'polities' model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-31
Number of pages29
JournalInternational Studies Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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