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Small State Discourses in the International Political Economy

Lee, Donna, Smith, Nicola J. (2010) Small State Discourses in the International Political Economy. Third World Quarterly, 31 (7). pp. 1091-1105. ISSN 0143-6597. (doi:10.1080/01436597.2010.518750)


This article supports growing calls to ‘take small states seriously’ in the international political economy but questions prevailing interpretations that ‘smallness’ entails inherent qualities that create unique constraints on, and opportunities for, small states. Instead, we argue that discourses surrounding the ‘inherent vulnerability’ of small states, especially developing and less-developed states, may produce the very outcomes that are attributed to state size itself. By presenting small states as a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’, vulnerability discourses divert attention away from the existence of unequal power structures that, far from being the ‘natural’ result of smallness, are in fact contingent and politically contested. The article then explores these themes empirically through discussion of small developing and less-developed states in the Commonwealth and the World Trade Organisation (WTO), considering in particular how smallness has variously been articulated in terms of what small states either cannot or will not do.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/01436597.2010.518750
Uncontrolled keywords: small states, discourses, international political economy, World Trade Organisation, Commonwealth Secretariat
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Politics and International Relations
Depositing User: Donna Lee
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2014 17:19 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 11:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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