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Distinctions, distinctions: "public" and "private" force?
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 17:35 authored by Patricia Owens
This article evaluates recent literatures within International Relations on so-called 'private force'. It suggests that the conceptual weaknesses of much of this literature can be accounted for, in part, by a misunderstanding of the historical and sociological importance of the way power is organized and legitimated through shifts in the publicprivate distinction. This distinction is one of the primary mechanisms, if not the primary mechanism, for organizing political, economic and, therefore, military power. For the sake of historical accuracy and conceptual integrity scholars should abandon the terminology of 'public' and 'private' force. Tracing how public-private distinctions shift and change as an effect of political power is a joint task for historical sociology and international political theory.
Department affiliated with
- International Relations Publications
NotesReprinted in Alejandro Colás and Bryan Mabee (eds.) Mercenaries, Pirates, Bandits and Empires: Private Violence in Historical Context (New York: Columbia University Press, 2010), pp.25-42
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