Spread of MFN treaties in the 1860’s – an animation… GB as hegemon


With the help of Sune Lehmann, David Lazer develops an animation of the spread of MFN treaties in the 1860s. According to Lazer, one of the major themes that dominates the study of international relations is the two-prong notion of hierarchy and hegemony. The rules of the international system are determined by the hegemon or by a collective of dominant states. The study of the international system is really a story of a contest for hegemony (cf Kindleberger, Organski, Gilpin, among many others). The relative free trade regime that emerged in the 1860s is often taken as a case study of the role of hierarchy in the international system, where the hegemon – Great Britain – imposes a set of rules on the international order that serves its own interests in free trade.

Check out the animation at the Complexity and Social Networks Blog at Harvard’s Program on Networked Governance. http://www.iq.harvard.edu/blog/netgov/2010/06/the_emergence_of_international_…

Key things to focus on include the temporal order of treaty signings, the role of geography in determining who signed treaties with whom, and the position of Great Britain in the emerging network.

Here is a link to Lazer’s paper that informed this animation:

The Free Trade Epidemic of the 1860S and Other Outbreaks of Economic Discrimination / David Lazer
/World Politics /51.4 (1999)

One thought on “Spread of MFN treaties in the 1860’s – an animation… GB as hegemon

  1.  That was a great article. I will look for his book. There are two interesting items in the social network analysis. One, the unusual role of GB after the network sprang to life as you noted. Two, the position of the US. Both of the great free-trading states of the world are minor players in Lazar’s network.