Finding Your Niche: Australia and the Trials of Middle-Powerdom

  • Brian Hocking
Part of the Studies in Diplomacy book series (STD)


A major consequence of the post-Cold War order has been the change, in two senses, of our perceptions of power and the processes through which power is converted into influence. Firstly, notions of power expressed in absolute terms have altered as the referents of power have been modified in significant ways, partly in response to the expanding policy agenda. Second, conceptions of power in relative terms are being revised as a result of such developments. In the post-bipolar world, the nature of the power hierarchy takes on an appearance of greater fluidity: who occupies the top and bottom ‘slots’ is far harder to determine. Such a situation presents both state and non-state actors with a mix of opportunities to take advantage of this fluidity in the pursuit of their interests, and challenges in responding to a far more uncertain milieu. It is against this background that the renewed interest in ‘middle-powerdom’ has emerged. The aim of this chapter is to consider the nature of the changes which have brought this about, what middle-power strategies are, and to discuss some problems to which they give rise. This will be done in the context of the Australian experience.


Foreign Policy International Politics International Agenda Power Hierarchy Middle Power 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Brian Hocking

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