Research project 4: Rising, successful, dissatisfied - On the conditions of great power dissidence

The project uses historical case studies to establish the conditions under which rising powers proceed to dissident behavior, that is to radical revisionist protest in word and deed against the contemporary order, its institutions and their embodied norms. In doing so, our research consciously focuses on the very actors with the greatest potential to overthrow an established or evolving international order. This research question seems especially pertinent because of the spectacular economic rise of China and India, which are catching up fast with established Western powers. The motivations which might induce such powers to proceed to dissident behavior are thus a topic with grave implications for global peace and stability.

Established theories of international relations are struggling with this question. They can hardly explain why rising powers should want to put at risk their propitious trajectory for a struggle over the contemporary international order – the very order that has allowed them to rise, prosper and thus to catch up with the established great powers. We suspect that underused theories like lateral pressure theory and social-psychological identity theories that focus on growing needs and claims concerning natural resources and international status might be better suited to shed light on the motives of dissident states. To carve out the conditions, variables and patterns that induced dissident great power behavior during the last century we will use a method mix combining within-case and cross-case comparison as well as process-tracing.


Project funded by the German Research Foundation.
Researchers in this project:

Reinhard Wolf | Lena Jaschob | Carsten Rauch | Iris Wurm