Regional International Society in East Asia? A Critical Investigation

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This essay conducts a critical investigation of the existence or not of international society at the regional level in East Asia as a critique of the excessive universalism of the existing English School theorization of international society. Through a purposeful engagement with the English School theory, it looks at how primary institutions of the Westphalian society of states such as sovereignty and the imperialism are historically imposed upon and resisted by East Asian states in dismantling the traditional regional order. It considers the way in which East Asian states creatively accept, interpret, engage in and practise certain primary institutions of Western-global international society, sovereignty and the market in particular, on their own terms in the postcolonial context. Variations in interpretation and practice of these two primary institutions, it argues, amount to East Asian regional contestations to Western-global international society through localization of norms. It also examines the peculiar features of great power management as a primary institution as it operates and is practised in East Asia and reflects on how in terms of both power politics and political economy the regional and the global deeply interpenetrate each other and are mutually constitutive. In so doing, the essay offers a social structural view of the contested existence of international society in East Asia, with an emphasis on understanding the contingent nature of the emergence of regional international society, its fluid existenc e and the problematic nature of its social boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)360-373
Number of pages14
JournalGlobal Discourse
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • regions
  • International society
  • English School
  • East Asia
  • primary institutions


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