The study of world politics in theoretical and empirical terms has recently witnessed an upsurge of interest in the question of complexity, drawing upon complexity theory; particularly, renewed interest in emergent properties and the aleatory nature of the political. This article seeks to demonstrate, primarily via an exploration of the work of Gilles Deleuze and Manuel DeLanda, the possibilities for a type of thinking about the ‘international’ that utilizes the notion of social complexity as its primary mode of enframing the major dimensions to world politics. As such it argues for a theoretical reconceptualization of the system of states, markets, and societies as individual and overlapping scale-entities, each possessing causal agency, with overlapping and enmeshed boundaries, situated in their historical and concrete manifestations. The reified concepts of polity, economy, and society are re-cast in the language of assemblage theory as ordering, exchanging and cohering, thus highlighting process in world politics and providing a theoretical base better equipped to cope with complex social processes and practices. And this I conclude clears the way to re-situate international space theoretically as a complex adaptive system.
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