Andrew Sobel

Director and Professor of International and Area Studies
Professor of Political Science (by courtesy)
Director, University College MA Program in International Affairs
Coordinator, Development and International Affairs Concentrations

contact info:

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1063
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Sobel specializes in the politics of global finance with a focus upon domestic explanations of international behavior. He is the author or editor of six books and numerous articles.

For more information, visit Andrew Sobel's department profile.

Birth of Hegemony: Crisis, Financial Revolution and Emerging Global Networks

Birth of Hegemony: Crisis, Financial Revolution and Emerging Global Networks

With American leadership facing increased competition from China and India, the question of how hegemons emerge—and are able to create conditions for lasting stability—is of utmost importance in international relations. The generally accepted wisdom is that liberal superpowers, with economies based on capitalist principles, are best able to develop systems conducive to the health of the global economy.

In Birth of Hegemony, Andrew C. Sobel draws attention to the critical role played by finance in the emergence of these liberal hegemons. He argues that a hegemon must have both the capacity and the willingness to bear a disproportionate share of the cost of providing key collective goods that are the basis of international cooperation and exchange. Through this, the hegemon helps maintain stability and limits the risk to productive international interactions. However, prudent planning can account for only part of a hegemon’s ability to provide public goods, while some of the necessary conditions must be developed simply through the processes of economic growth and political development. Sobel supports these claims by examining the economic trajectories that led to the successive leadership of the Netherlands, Britain, and the United States.

Stability in international affairs has long been a topic of great interest to our understanding of global politics, and Sobel’s nuanced and theoretically sophisticated account sets the stage for a consideration of recent developments affecting the United States.

International Political Economy in Context

International Political Economy in Context

Although many international political economy texts offer good descriptions of what events have occurred in global economic and political relations, they make little attempt to develop explicit theoretical frameworks explaining why. Andrew Sobel's International Political Economy in Context: Individual Choices, Global Effects takes a micro approach to international political economy that considers the fact that individuals-not nations-make choices. Grounding policy choices in the competitive environs of domestic politics and decision-making processes, Sobel illustrates how policymakers choose among alternatives, settling on those that are most in sync with their self-interest. The book is structured to build students' skills for a sophisticated understanding of how and why events unfold in the international political economy. Students become versed in the primary assumptions and structural/macro conditions of economic and political geography in the global arena. An examination of micro-level conditions and mechanisms introduces the factors that influence political and economic outcomes. Students are then able to use those primary assumptions and micro-level arrangements to make sense of past and present changes in the global political economy. Those familiar with Sobel's first volume, Political Economy and Global Affairs, will easily find their way through this new book. Anyone looking for a compelling, accessible, and fully integrated rational choice perspective on international political economy will find it here.