The fractured society: a study of utopian conflicts in world politics
University of Delaware
International society is fraught with utopian cleavages. They arise from logical contradictions between the multiple, contingently related utopian frameworks agents draw upon to navigate their shared socio-cultural environment. They are essentially conflicts over the ideal purposes and organization of international society itself that revolve around how some shared socio-cultural referent fits (or does not fit) within it. Thus, in a utopian cleavage it is the very things agents' share that allow them to differentiate themselves from one another. One of the primary mediums through which this differentiation occurs is norms. By standardizing and defining appropriate behavior for agents of a particular identity, norms provide a behavioral litmus test for agents to recognize those who share their utopian vision. However, this means that norms simultaneously provide agents with a way to differentiate those who do not share their utopian vision and therefore pose a potential threat to its realization. In order to examine utopian cleavages in international society and the role norms play in their formation, we must understand international society as multidimensional in nature. This means society is simultaneously comprised of relationships of similarity, difference, consensus, conflict, structural complements, and structural contradictions. It also entails recognizing both sets of relationships are equally socio-cultural in nature. By combing these two propositions we can capture the interplay between the integrated and conflictual aspects of society, from which utopian cleavages emerge. To illustrate the multidimensionality of international society, the existence of utopian cleavages, and role norms play in their formation, this project examines the antithetical policies, practice, and attitudes surrounding the shared referent of homosexuality in contemporary international society, and the contradictory utopian frameworks agents draw upon to justify them.