From Thucydides to Waltz to Keohane, the concept of hegemony and its implications for international relations has been thoroughly debated. However, the end of the Cold War and the maintenance of US hegemony has forced scholars to investigate whether or not the assumptions of past International Relations theories still hold. I argue that established theories of hegemony largely do not accurately explain the post-Cold War international system because the system itself has been altered through norms, regimes, and institutions. My study will present a framework to understand hegemony through the use of historic blocs and, in the modern context, legitimacy. I will detail how characteristics of legitimacy, such as adherence to norms, engagement in the system, appeals to great powers, and power gaps, dictate status and stability. With a framework established, I will compare my theory against established theories on hegemony through the use of two case studies, one on the British Empire and the other on American hegemony.


Weber, Désirée


Political Science


International Relations

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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