Sovereignties: Westphalian, liberal and anti-utopian

Takashi Inoguchi, Paul Bacon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Sovereignty remains the key concept and principle according to which the world is ordered. But sovereignty is also a disputed concept and a contested social practice; it has come under fierce assault from a number of diverse sources. Sovereignty is paradoxical in nature and hypocritically practised. States have different empirical degrees and qualitative types of sovereignty, ranging from the merely formal to the substantial to the popular. States also have different dispositions towards sovereignty, and are liable to project their own in different ways in pursuit of conflicting objectives. Different groups of states attempt to impose their understandings and beliefs on the international system. There are three ideal types which help us to understand the issue of sovereignty and the interactions of sovereign states. These are respectively Westphalian, liberal and anti-utopian. The Westphalian paradigm has the maintenance and protection of state sovereignty as its key concept. The liberal paradigm is conceived in terms of the concept of popular sovereignty and controversies over the extent to which this ideal should be promoted and exported. The anti-utopian paradigm is conceived in terms of the concept of quasi-sovereignty or the loss of sovereignty, and in terms of resistance to attempts to impose globalization and liberal values on recalcitrant states and cultures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)285-304
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Relations of the Asia-Pacific
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2001 Aug 1
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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