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Addresses concerns that rising powers may generate international conflict, focusing on Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa (BRICS)

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In Rising Powers and Foreign Policy Revisionism, Cameron Thies and Mark Nieman examine the identity and behavior of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) over time in light of academic and policymaker concerns that rising powers may become more aggressive and conflict-prone. The authors develop a theoretical framework that encapsulates pressures for revisionism through the mechanism of competition and pressures for accommodation and assimilation through the mechanism of socialization.  The identity and behavior of the BRICS should be a product of the push and pull of these two forces as mediated by their domestic foreign policy processes.

State identity is investigated qualitatively through the use of role theory and the identification of national role conceptions. Both economic and militarized conflict behavior are examined using Bayesian change-point modeling, which identifies structural breaks in time series data, revealing potential wholesale revision of foreign policy. Using this innovative approach to show that the behavior of rising powers is governed not simply by the structural dynamics of power but also by the roles that these rising powers define for themselves, they assert that this process will likely lead to a much more evolutionary approach to foreign policy and will not necessarily generate international conflict.

Cameron G. Thies is Professor and Director of the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University.

Mark David Nieman is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University.


“By combining structural and ideational variables, Thies and Nieman enlarge our understanding of the rising power phenomenon and add much to one of the most important issue areas of international relations.”
—T.V. Paul, McGill University

“In this book, Thies and Nieman make a significant contribution to the literature on rising powers, challenging some of the received wisdom about this important group of states. By developing a role theoretical approach to foreign policy analysis and by applying the approach to some of the key rising powers in the contemporary international system they are able to generate a series of fascinating insights about this group of states.”
—Richard Little, University of Bristol