Dirk Nabers

Crises, Hegemony and Change in the International System: A Conceptual Framework

GIGA Working Paper, No. 50, May 2007

Abstract
The paper tries to shed light on the conceptual link between international crises like the one following September 11, 2001, the Asian financial crisis of 1997/1998, the end of the Cold War or major international conflicts, and processes of change in the international system. It argues that cultural structures rest on their continuous instantiation through social practices, thereby making them coterminous with process. Process is constituted by meaningful acts of social agents, and can thus only be grasped by analysing meaning. Meaning is transmitted by language. Meaningful language is never reducible to individual speakers; it is a social act. In the paper, I call this process discourse. Linking Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) with the theory of hegemony developed by Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, I will finally be able to show how hegemonic discourses serve as the nexus between crises and cultural structures and how they make cultural change possible.

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