• Drifting Apart

    Drifting Apart

    The case studies of "Drifting Apart" cover five current and historical instances of dissociation: Iran and the West after 1979, Brexit, the building of alternative financial institution by China, the end of Russian-European security cooperation since the 2000s and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact.

Drifting Apart: International Institutions in Crisis and the Management of Dissociation Processes

The institutions of the global order are in deep crisis. Prominent states revoke their membership, build competing institutions or openly stop fulfilling their obligations. These processes of dissociation of states from existing institutions can lead to significant tensions between those states who turn away from an institution and those who want to uphold it. Cases like the erosion of the security cooperation between Russia and the West or the de facto failure of the Turkish EU membership application show that processes of dissociation can seriously and permanently harm the relationship between states. Despite this, little research has so far been conducted on these types of institutional decay.

“Drifting Apart” aims to close this gap in academic research and provide knowledge and advice for those dealing with dissociation, initially proceeding in an explorative way. It examines five historical and current case studies in order to find out how the level of tension between the involved states is affected by the way they handle these processes of dissociation. Of central importance will be the question which dimension of the conflict is foregrounded, testing the hypothesis that processes of dissociation that are primarily perceived as ideational conflicts lead to greater tensions than those that mostly concern the distribution of material goods. The overarching objectives of the project are to discover under which circumstances tensions rise in processes of dissociation, to better understand the course of institutional crises and to develop strategies for defusing these processes.