Stephen Krasner: Subversive Realist

31 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2010 Last revised: 29 Jul 2010

See all articles by Robert O. Keohane

Robert O. Keohane

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

Date Written: 2010


Stephen D. Krasner is conventionally regarded as a Realist student of international political economy. But he is equally an institutional theorist, who has made major contributions to our understanding of international regimes and sovereignty as well as of the difference between control and authority in world politics. Krasner also shares much common ground with Constructivists, due to his emphasis on the role of ideas and identity. His distinguished work on sovereignty emphasizes these themes. Going further, Krasner is an implicit theorist of social norms, who is more aware than some norms theorists that for norms to be consequential in world politics, the agents promoting them have to be effective. The paper concludes by suggesting that Steve Krasner’s insightful perspective on world politics could be usefully focused on the important but under-theorized concept of persuasion. Progress in understanding persuasion is more likely to be made by combining concepts – as Krasner has done in such a distinguished fashion throughout his career – than by using only one perspective, Realist, Institutionalist, or Constructivist. Indeed, Krasner’s work is a refutation of the view that these three approaches to world politics are mutually exclusive.

Keywords: international relations theory, Realism, social norms, persuasion

Suggested Citation

Keohane, Robert O., Stephen Krasner: Subversive Realist (2010). APSA 2010 Annual Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN:

Robert O. Keohane (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs ( email )

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544-1021
United States

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