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Cooper, Andrew F & Flemes, Daniel (2013) Foreign Policy Strategies of Emerging Powers in a Multipolar World: an introductory review. Third World Quarterly Vol. 34, No. 6: 943-962.

This Introductory Review examines the major debates concerning the rise of emerging powers in the global system. It points to the fundamental difference between the contours of ascendancy in the first quarter of the twenty-first century from previous historical eras with reference to the number of countries placed in this category, the privileging of economic dimensions of power, and the much more elaborate and open levels with regard to institutionalization.

Ample attention is paid to the BRICS, but consistent with the image of multipolarity, it also gives some emphasis to the question of whether the changing global system provides enhanced space for middle powers. After highlighting these highly relevant contextual considerations, the core of the Review moves to an analysis centred on more specific puzzles about the foreign policy strategies of emerging powers. One major puzzle is whether the preference of rising states is to work through established institutions or to utilize parallel and/or competitive mechanisms. Another concerns the balance between material interests, status-enhancement, and identity issues as motivators for policy preferences. Still another focuses on the degree to which China should be differentiated from the other BRICS, or indeed whether the BRICS share values such as a common politics of resentment or want to differentiate themselves on a normative-oriented basis in alterative groupings such as IBSA. A more sophisticated awareness of the limitations as well as of the capacities of the BRICS - with an appreciation of the intricate mix of concerns about solidarity and sovereignty, as well as conceptual tensions between realism and complex interdependence – is not only important for assessing the future trajectory of the BRICS role in the world, but in locating space for categories of countries such as middle powers.

The major puzzle for middle powers is whether or not they will be able to mobilize attributes, notably the leveraging of ‘network power’, that provide them with comparative advantage. Although in overall terms the global system has not progressed towards multipolarity in a linear fashion underwritten by alternative actors, it is precisely due to this imprecision – and level of academic and operational contestation – that the articles assembled in this Special Issue have such salience.

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