Hedley Bull

Hedley Bull

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Hedley Bull, FBA
FBA
FBA may refer to:*Fellow of the British Academy*Federation of British Artists*Federal Bar Association*First Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia*Flux Balance Analysis, in chemical engineering/systems biology*Freshwater Biological Association...

 (born Sydney, Australia, 10 June,1932 – died, Oxford, England, 18 May 1985) was Professor of International Relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

 at the Australian National University
Australian National University
The Australian National University is a teaching and research university located in the Australian capital, Canberra.As of 2009, the ANU employs 3,945 administrative staff who teach approximately 10,000 undergraduates, and 7,500 postgraduate students...

, the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

 and the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 until his death from cancer in 1985. He was Montague Burton Professor of International Relations
Montague Burton Professor of International Relations
The Montague Burton Professorship of International Relations at the University of Oxford is one of the two main professorships of International Relations created by the endowment of Montague Burton in UK universities. The Oxford chair was established in 1930 and is associated with a Fellowship of...

 at Oxford from 1977 to 1985.

Bull studied history and philosophy at the University of Sydney
University of Sydney
The University of Sydney is a public university located in Sydney, New South Wales. The main campus spreads across the suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington on the southwestern outskirts of the Sydney CBD. Founded in 1850, it is the oldest university in Australia and Oceania...

, where he was strongly influenced by the philosopher John Anderson
John Anderson (philosopher)
John Anderson was a Scottish-born Australian philosopher who occupied the post of Challis Professor of Philosophy at Sydney University in the years 1927-1958. He founded the empirical brand of philosophy known as Australian realism...

. In 1953, Bull left Australia to study politics at Oxford, and after two years he was appointed to an assistant lectureship in international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

In 1965, Bull was appointed director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Unit of the British Foreign Office. Two years later, in 1967, he was appointed to a professorship of international relations at the Australian National University in Canberra
Canberra
Canberra is the capital city of Australia. With a population of over 345,000, it is Australia's largest inland city and the eighth-largest city overall. The city is located at the northern end of the Australian Capital Territory , south-west of Sydney, and north-east of Melbourne...

.

In 1977, Bull published his main work, The Anarchical Society
The Anarchical Society
The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics is a 1977 book by Hedley Bull and a founding text of the so called English School of international relations theory...

. It is widely regarded as a key textbook in the field of international relations and is also seen as the central text in the so-called 'English School' of international relations
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

. In this book, he argues that despite the anarchical
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 character of the international arena, it is characterised by the formation of not only a system of states, but a society of states. His requirements for an entity to be called a state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

 are that it must claim sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 over (i) a group of people (ii) a defined territory, and that it must have a government
Government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

. States form a system when they have a sufficient degree of interaction, and impact on each other's decisions, so as they "behave — at least in some measure — as parts of a whole." A system of states can exist without it also being a society of states. A society of states comes into existence "when a group of states, conscious of certain common interests and common values, form a society in the sense that they conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions."

The society of states is a way for Bull to analyse and assess possibilities of order in world politics
World Politics
World Politics is an academic journal founded in 1948. It publishes articles from all subdisciplines of political science. Material might be historical in nature, current affairs, journalistic, or policy-oriented. It includes research on all topics of import in the field of international affairs...

. He continues his argument by giving the concept of order
Social order
Social order is a concept used in sociology, history and other social sciences. It refers to a set of linked social structures, social institutions and social practices which conserve, maintain and enforce "normal" ways of relating and behaving....

 in social life, and the mechanisms of: the balance of power
Balance of power in international relations
In international relations, a balance of power exists when there is parity or stability between competing forces. The concept describes a state of affairs in the international system and explains the behavior of states in that system...

, international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

, diplomacy
Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the art and practice of conducting negotiations between representatives of groups or states...

, war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

 and the great powers central roles. He finally concludes that, despite the existence of possible alternative forms of organization, the states system is our best chance of achieving order in world politics.

Bull attended Fort Street High School.

See also

  • New medievalism
    New medievalism
    New medievalism is a term used by Hedley Bull in The Anarchical Society to describe the erosion of state sovereignty in the contemporary globalised world...

  • The Anarchical Society
    The Anarchical Society
    The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics is a 1977 book by Hedley Bull and a founding text of the so called English School of international relations theory...

  • Montague Burton Professor of International Relations
    Montague Burton Professor of International Relations
    The Montague Burton Professorship of International Relations at the University of Oxford is one of the two main professorships of International Relations created by the endowment of Montague Burton in UK universities. The Oxford chair was established in 1930 and is associated with a Fellowship of...


Selected works

  • The control of the arms race: Disarmament and arms control in the missile age (1965)
  • Strategic studies and its critics (1967)
  • Justice in international relations (1984) (1983-84 Hagey lectures)
  • The Anarchical Society
    The Anarchical Society
    The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics is a 1977 book by Hedley Bull and a founding text of the so called English School of international relations theory...

    : A Study of Order in World Politics
    (1977)
  • Intervention in World Politics (1984)
  • The Challenge of the Third Reich (1986) (The Adam von Trott Memorial Lectures)


There is a comprehensive bibliography of Hedley Bull's works (prepared by Donald Markwell
Donald Markwell
For the Montgomery, Alabama, talk radio personality, Don Markwell, see Don Markwell Professor Donald John 'Don' Markwell is an Australian social scientist and college president...

) in
  • J. D. B. Miller & R. J. Vincent (eds), Order and Violence, Oxford University Press, 1990, and
  • Robert J. O'Neill
    Robert J. O'Neill
    Robert John O'Neill AO is Chair of the International Academic Advisory Committee at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, was director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, based in London, 1982-1987, and Chichele Professor of the History of War at Oxford...

    & David N. Schwartz (eds), Hedley Bull on Arms Control, Macmillan, 1987.