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Post-Westphalia: the Network Order.

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IFANS is Korea’s top foreign policy and security think tank.

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KIM Taehwan

A Neo-geopolitics approach to South Korea’s Eurasia Initiative. 26/03/2015






Classic geopolitics, understood as the “theory of the state as a geographical organism or phenomenon in space” or the “struggle between the states over the control of spaces and places”, has developed since the 19th century.

Government-to-government diplomacy and war, as an extension of diplomacy, are the major means of defining and regulating inter-state geopolitical relations, in which hard power (military and economic capabilities in particular) has reigned as the dominant source of influence.

As a result, the international society has been shaped in a hierarchical order. Different groupings of nations such as great, middle, and smaller powers, or core, semi-periphery, and periphery, in fact reflect a hierarchical stratification of nations in terms of the size of their hard power.

In the 21st century, however, the international order is changing well beyond the post-Cold War structure. The technological innovations as “meta-power” are triggering changes in the existing world order, which has been put in place since the Westphalia Treaties in the mid-17th century.

In a global network society in an information age, non-state actors such as NGOs, corporations, and even individuals are coming to the surface of the international society, together with the traditional nation-state actors. New types of power are arising as a source of influence and persuasion, one of which is soft power.

Other types of power include “social power”, “network power”, and “collaborative power” which are based not on particular attributes of the power wielders, but rather on the relations between the actors.

The new types of power could be subsumed under the rubric of “relational power”, in which power is embedded in social relationship between the actors and thus, the notion of “power over” is replaced with the notion of “power with”.