Neorealism and International Subsystems of Small States: Insights from Sub-Saharan African Countries' Interactions


The prevailing wisdom in IR debates finds that neorealism is "the powerful tool" predicting weak states' behaviour. It has been argued that systemic factors are more likely to explain foreign policy choices of small states if compared to domestic factors. This paper is an exploration of the structural realist hypotheses about small states' behaviour in the international system. It particularly questions the importance given by neorealism to structural explanations while analysing small states' behaviour, despite paying little attention to the relativity of smallness. However, the neo-realist hypotheses would become more consistent if tested on smaller states of subsystems crowded by countries considered small in global comparisons. By focusing on smaller states of the Sub-Saharan-African sub-system, this paper argues that neorealist expectations find very little empirical support.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20398573v1n2p148

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