Order and disorder across geopolitical space: The effect of declining dominance on interstate conflict

J. Patrick Rhamey, Michael O. Slobodchikoff, Thomas J. Volgy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


While scholars have long noted that violent conflicts appear to cluster in certain geographic spaces, we propose that the underlying contextual cause behind this empirical finding is the presence of dominance vacuums, where hierarchical relationships between states are unclear. The absence of a dominant state within these vacuums provides greater opportunity for all other states to engage in substantial conflicts in pursuit of their foreign policy objectives. Building on recent research that reconceptualises capabilities and hierarchy to incorporate the influence of geography, we provide a key contribution to hierarchical approaches to international politics by identifying geographic areas with a greater propensity for conflict. We test this approach to conflict through a series of statistical analyses using different units of analysis and provide findings suggesting that, within dominance vacuums, the odds of observing a conflict between states more than triple.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-406
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of International Relations and Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 15 2015


  • geopolitics
  • international conflict
  • international hierarchy
  • major powers
  • power projection
  • regional politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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