In the book Foreign Policy Analysis by Chris Adlen and Amnon Aran, the authors talk about the idea of a "clustered state" as opposed to an "institutional state", but I'm unclear on exactly what they mean by that.

What makes a clustered state different from an institutional state in international relations?

  • 5
    Can you explain what you mean by "clustered state" and "institutional state"? When I search google for that, I just get references to quantum computing – defining what you're talking about more specifically might help you get a more useful answer
    – divibisan
    Jun 5 '20 at 21:00
  • I'm looking for a definition of a clustered state too! I struggled on the Internet to find one but my point of reference is the Foreign Policy book by Chris Alden and Amnon Aran. An institutional state is the general definition of a state from what I understood Jun 5 '20 at 21:25
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    @VaishnaviMadala I suggest editing your question to include that information, and maybe a relevant quote or two from the book.
    – Brian Z
    Jun 5 '20 at 23:35

Alden and Aran propose a concept of the "clustered state" in their book Foreign Policy Analysis. Quoting from a blog that summarizes their framework:

The clustered states are states that have deliberately pooled some of their sovereignty and the use of political force into common international politically integrated institutions. This makes it easier for social relations to operate across national borders, resulting in linking politics among the clustered states. Clustered states are usually inclined to utilise foreign policy tools multilaterally.

To me the most obvious example of that would be the EU member states. They delegate key aspects of their sovereignty to the cluster as a whole. In leaving the EU, the UK is moving in the direction of a more traditional, institutional state instead. Here is an article that traces how clustered states developed in Europe over the course of the twentieth century.


Caveat: I do not have a degree in international relations.

After reading Foreign Policy Analysis by Chris Adlen and Amnon Aran, I believe, in a nutshell, an Institutional State is a formalized entity encompassing a people and/or territory.

The United States is an Institutional State. Germany is an Institutional State.

A Clustered State is a formalized entity encompassing a set of .... States, Beliefs, Needs, what have you.

While Germany is an Institutional State, and as such it can and does set foreign policy, monetary policy, or other things that are part and parsel of International Relations, it is also a member of a Clustered State, the European Union. It, and the other members of the EU, set, and have set, Foreign Policy, to the betterment of the whole Clustered State.

Kuwait is an Institutional State. It has International Relations. OPEC is a Clustered State, which has International Relations and of which, Kuwait also benefits from those relations.

Of course, a lot of the words, let alone concepts, used in the paper are beyond me, so I may be totally off base.

NOTE: I downloaded their paper from academia.edu and read it.

  • Thank you for this :) I think I have a better understanding now! Jun 10 '20 at 7:00

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