Multiplicity: Anarchy in the Mirror of Sociology

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Justin Rosenberg’s proposal of ‘multiplicity’ as a new grounding concept for IR aims at liberating the international from the perceived constraints of its dominant framing by Realism. Viewed from within the singular political entity, the international can only appear as absence and negativity, traditionally thematised in IR as ‘anarchy’. Recasting it instead as ‘multiplicity’, through a move from politics to sociology, is intended to change the understanding of the international from negative to positive: from conflict, tragedy and repetition to interaction, combination and development. This move, however, does not succeed in grasping the negativity of the international, and so as a result it remains within the limits that Realism enunciates: multiplicity complements anarchy sociologically rather than transcending it theoretically. A new concept of the international would result not from rejecting the negative in favour of the positive but from recognizing them as dialectically contained within each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-545
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Early online date04 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 02 Apr 2020


  • Multiplicity
  • Realism
  • anarchy
  • dialectics
  • sociology
  • the international


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