Moving Beyond (Traditional) Alliance Theory: the Neo-Gramscian Approach to the U.S.-Japan Alliance


Misato Matsuoka

PhD defended at: 




While the nature of security is transforming, alliances remain at the centre of foreign policymaking in the contemporary era. Although such ideas as “the end of alliances” and “the end of alliance theories” have been discussed with the emergence of a “coalition of willingness”, alliances have continuously evolved in the post-Cold War and post-9.11 contexts. The forms of security are transforming by comprehending not only the traditional but also non-traditional types, consisting of peacekeeping operations (PKO), humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), global commons and energy security. In the face of changing and malleable international security surroundings, alliances have been reshaped. Yet, alliances remain to be treated as mere military alliances rather than political ones in the realm of IR scholarship and a negative perception of the interdependence of allies still exists, which may have limited the understanding about alliance relationships in the post-Cold War period.

This PhD thesis aims to refine the theory of alliance by incorporating the neo-Gramscian account of hegemony, which is crucial to be taken into consideration. This research project is intended to go beyond the military understanding of alliances. In light of alliance politics, it is important to explore not only material but also the economic and ideational aspects of alliances. In consideration of the current circumstances, it seems that it is not only material elements that have bolstered the alliance, which underlines the importance of examining other elements such as ideology. Although some literature addresses the causes of the continuity of alliances, there have not been in-depth investigations about the durability of the U.S.-Japan alliance, particularly within the International Relations (IR) framework. Furthermore, the alliance may have become deeply embedded in Japanese society as the pillar of Japanese foreign policy, which is another aspect that shall be examined.