Keohane and Nye’s theories of Complex Interdependence and Transnationalism

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Robert Keohane and Joseph Nye discussed interdependence and transnationalism in their first publication, ‘Power and Interdependence’ released in 1977. The release coincided with the United Nations (UN) decade of Development where states pushed towards economic growth and social advancement. The 70’s was also a particularly quiet time during the Cold War and was when the European Community (EC) really came to fruition. The world was moving forward at a substantial rate and the old schools of thought seemed less and less relevant in understanding world politics. Keohane and Nye pointed to organisations such as the EC and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) stating that these along with the rise of multinational…show more content…
States are so interlinked now via economics and culture that being a ‘lone’ state for many is just not possible. Although states are seen as mutually dependant they are not necessarily equally dependant, one state is often more dependent on another. Taking the British/US example the cutting of these ties would hurt both states but one more than the other. Maybe the British would lose more as the US is a key ally or maybe the US would lose the most as they would lose their UK military bases this asymmetry is where Keohane and Nye believe power lies. They saw two dimensions which could determine power within an interdependent system, sensitivity and vulnerability. Sensitivity examines at how fast changes in one state influenced another and how fast this could be reversed with policy changes, Keohane and Nye looked at the OPEC oil crisis and saw the US was less sensitive than Japan because less of its oil was imported however it still affected the US. Sensitivity is seen as a temporary problem as it can be ‘fixed’, in this case by negotiating prices, seeking new supplies or using one’s own oil. Vulnerability on the other hand is permanent, policy change cannot help. An overly simplistic example would be if only one state supplied oil and they upped their prices other states would have no option but to pay (Keohane & Nye, 2011: 10-11). Interdependence in today’s world can be seen all around us. The EU has become ever closer and larger

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