Empire as a Notion and Concept of Modern Political Science: The Problems of Interpretation

Empire as a Notion and Concept of Modern Political Science:
The Problems of Interpretation

Shishkov V.V.,

assistant professor, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, fh55@mail.ru

elibrary_id: 482317 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2018.04.03

For citation:

Shishkov V.V. Empire as a Notion and Concept of Modern Political Science: The Problems of Interpretation. – Polis. Political Studies. 2018. No. 4. P. 22-36. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2018.04.03


The article deals with the problems associated with the actualization of the empire theme in contemporary political studies with reference to current political processes. The empire is explored as a concept of political science and as a notion. The term “empire” denotes a special type of state that has universalist political claims and a structure of political institutions that ensures the concentration of power and its resources. The concept of “empire” is characterized by negative connotations, as well as ambiguity of interpretations as applied to the present. Two main interpretations of the empire are considered: the ideocratic and the center-peripheral one. The methodological limitations associated with attempts to apply them in the analysis of modern political institutions are shown. Thus, the application of center-peripheral approach leads to the erosion of the picture of center itself, as a subject of politics and management. The ideocratic interpretation of the concept “empire” is limited by modern trends of the de-ideologization of the state. In American political science the concept of “empire” is actualized in connection with attempts to advocate the role of the U.S. in post-bipolar world politics, their attempts to establish the world hegemony. At the same time, the concept of “empire” is actually replaced by the established categorical apparatus for the study of international relations and is intended to emphasize the unique, in the opinion of foreign researchers, nature of U.S. domination. In other interpretations of modern imperialism, it is identified with the great power and is used to characterize a number of modern states and their alliances. In the article, conclusions are drawn about the serious theoretical and methodological difficulties of interpreting the empire as a concept of modern politics, connected not only with the complexity of the empire phenomenon itself, but also with the fact that the attempts considered are based on the concept of empires of the era of imperialism, a special period characterized by domination states-empires. It seems promising to consider the “empire” as a type of conceptualization of policy based on specific political interests, and its implementation is possible in the event of legitimization of its imperial nature.

empire; imperialism; globalization; center-periphery; world-system; center of power; superpower; hyperpower.


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Content No. 4, 2018

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