Neither realism nor liberalism: New directions in theorising EU security policy

A G V Hyde-Price

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9 Citations (SciVal)


Neither the realist analysis of Lorenzo Cladi and Andrea Locatelli nor the liberal approach of Benjamin Pohl offers sufficient theoretical leverage or conceptual sophistication to adequately explain a complex empirical puzzle such as European security and defence cooperation. Both articles provide some valuable insights into aspects of contemporary transatlantic relations and the CSDP, but a complex international outcome like European security cooperation cannot be attributed either to balancing or bandwagoning, or to the simple aggregation of domestic political preferences in individual member states. In order to move beyond the impasse in the debate between realism and liberalism, this article proposes an alternative theoretical approach - one that avoids reductionism and integrates both system-level and domestic factors into the analysis; provides a clearer understanding of the ontological status of agents and structures in transatlantic security relations; and gives due weight to both material and ideational factors in shaping security policy. The primary sources of this innovative theoretical approach to the study of transatlantic security relations are threefold: Colin Wight's concept of structural relationality combining depth ontology with emergence theory; the strategic-relational approach of Bob Jessop; and a discursive-materialist analysis of power, institutions, and ideas based on neo-Gramscian understandings of hegemony.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-408
Number of pages22
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2013


  • EU
  • Security
  • theory development


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