Policy of sanctions in a changing world: theoretical reflection

Policy of sanctions in a changing world: theoretical reflection

Article received: 2022.10.31. Accepted: 2022.12.07

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2023.02.08

For citation:

Timofeev I.N. Policy of sanctions in a changing world: theoretical reflection. – Polis. Political Studies. 2023. No. 2. P. 103-119. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.17976/jpps/2023.02.08. EDN: OWQAPZ


In recent years, International Relations (IR) scholars have accumulated an impressive amount of empirical research on the use of sanctions as a part of a foreign policy toolbox. Empirical generalizations galvanized the development of middle-range theories, concentrated on sanctions and related phenomena. However, the amount of empirical literature is already so vast, that the need to develop fundamental categories to generalize these findings emerges as an academic challenge. The challenge is further influenced by the contemporary changes taking place in the international world order. It faces towering competition between great powers and the rising use of sanctions by the U.S. and Western allies against Russia and China, while for a long time sanctions had been mainly concentrated on smaller “pariah” states. The apparent transformation of international realities requires a reconsideration of the fundamental IR categories to approach the issue. Fundamental theory emerges as a practical tool to navigate an increasingly turbulent international realm. Such a challenge is especially relevant for the Russian academic community, which needs to reflect on the current “sanctions tsunami” against Russia. The goal of the article is to revisit major IR theories in relation to the policy of sanctions in changing world order. The key point implies that the disruption of the post-Cold War complex interdependence due to rising competition of great powers may undermine the utility of neoliberal concepts to approach sanctions. Realism may turn into mainstream theory again, approaching sanctions as a mean of power politics in increasingly anarchical world.

sanctions, policy of sanctions, IR theory, realism, neoliberalism, constructivism.


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