Pragmatic Ordering: Informality, Experimentation and the Maritime Security Agenda

Christian Bueger*, Timothy Edmunds*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
129 Downloads (Pure)


The question of when and how international orders change remains a pertinent issue of international relations theory. This article examines the process of transformation emanating from the rise of the maritime security agenda as an exemplary case of international change. Investigating the evolution of maritime security and the diverse international responses to it, we develop the model of pragmatic ordering. The model of pragmatic ordering synthesises recent theoretical arguments for a focus on ordering advanced by advocates of practice
theory, pragmatist philosophy and related approaches. It also integrates evidence from recent global governance research. We propose a five stage model. According to the model, once a new problem emerges (problematisation), informality allows for experimenting with new practices and developing new knowledge (informalisation and experimentation). Once these experimental practices become codified, and survive contestation, they increasingly settle (codification) and are spread through learning and translation processes consolidation). We examine developments in the Western Indian Ocean region to illustrate each of these stages. The article draws attention to the substantial
reorganisation of maritime space occurring over the past decade and offers an innovative approach for the study of orders and change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-191
Number of pages21
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021


  • Order
  • Change
  • Maritime Security
  • Pragmatism
  • Practice Theory
  • Ocean Governance
  • Ordering


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