Susan Strange

Susan Strange
Professor Susan Strange, c1980.jpg
Portrait of Susan Strange in 1980
Born(1923-06-09)9 June 1923
Died25 October 1998(1998-10-25) (aged 75)
Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, England, UK
Alma materLondon School of Economics
InstitutionsUniversity of Warwick
European University Institute
London School of Economics
Chatham House
Main interests
International relations
Notable ideas
International political economy, structural power

Susan Strange (9 June 1923 – 25 October 1998) was a British scholar of international relations who was "almost single-handedly responsible for creating international political economy".[1] Notable publications include Casino Capitalism (1986), States and Markets (1988), The Retreat of the State (1996), and Mad Money (1998).

Early life

Susan Strange was born on 9 June 1923 in Langton Matravers (County Dorset). She went to the Royal High School, Bath, and to the University of Caen in France,[2] and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from the London School of Economics (LSE) during the Second World War.[3] Like Robert W. Cox, the other founder of British International Political Economy, she never obtained a PhD.[4]


Susan Strange earned a first in economics at the London School of Economics (LSE) in 1943; it would be twenty years before she established her reputation as an academic. She raised six children and worked as a financial journalist for The Economist, then The Observer until 1957. In 1964, she began to conduct full-time research. She remained a full-time researcher at Chatham House (formerly The Royal Institute of International Affairs).[1][5] From 1978 to 1988, she served as the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at LSE, and was the first woman at LSE to hold this chair and professorship. She served as professor of international political economy at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy, from 1989 to 1993. Strange's final academic post, which she held from 1993 until her death in 1998, was as chair of international relations and professor of international political economy at the University of Warwick, where she built up the graduate programme in International Political Economy.[6] She also taught in Japan, where between 1993 and 1996 she was several times guest lecturer at Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

She was a major figure in the professional associations in both Britain and the United States. She was an instrumental founding member and the first treasurer of the British International Studies Association and served as the third female president of the International Studies Association in 1995.[7]

International relations scholarship

Strange was an influential International Relations scholar.[8] She played a central role in developing international political economy as a field of study.[1] She claimed that in general, "economists simply do not understand how the global economy works" due to a poor understanding of power and an over-reliance on abstract economic models. However, she noted that political scientists also have a woeful understanding of international economics due to their emphasis on institutions and power. Thus she became one of the earliest campaigners advocating the necessity of studying both politics and economics for international relations scholars.[1]

Power and international financial markets

States and Markets (1988) delineates four key channels that constitute power—security, production, finance, and knowledge; power is the ability to "provide protection, make things, obtain access to credit, and develop and control authoritative modes of interpreting the world". Strange posits that the most overlooked channel of power is financial access, which consequently becomes the most important one to comprehend; in other words, she argues that one cannot comprehend how the world works without a thorough understanding of international financial markets. To illustrate, Casino Capitalism, published in 1986, discusses the dangers of the international financial system, which she considered confirmed by the 1997 Asian financial crisis. In this book, she defined "casino capitalism" as a form of capitalism that is extremely volatile and unpredictable as a consequence of the "speculatively-oriented lifts" in finance capital. There is a financial "contagion" creating a huge instability in the international financial markets.[9]

Her analysis in States and Markets (1988) focused on what she called the "market-authority nexus", the see-saw of power between the market and political authority. She maintained that the global market, relative to the nation state, had gained significant power since the 1970s and that a "dangerous gap" was emerging between the two. She considered nation states inflexible, limited by territorial boundaries in a world of fragile intergovernmental co-operation; "Westfailure" is what she called Westphalia. Markets would be able to flout regulations and reign free, creating more uncertainty and risk in an already chaotic environment.

Position on the International Monetary System

In Casino Capitalism, Susan Strange problemizes the nonsystem that the international monetary system has become. She compares it with a casino whereon the foreign exchange plays as snakes and ladders. She sets the stakes that international finance has become stronger than states and has been deregularized. The Smithsonian Agreement has been weak leading further to benign neglect from the US, the Eurodollar market and OPEC has been strong undermining the Bretton Woods system. There is no state or actor governing the international monetary system and the international financial markets. American banks are made free to pursue their interests since the 1980s strengthened by the possibility to finance American bonds in the world, making a carousel of bond trading with the OPEC and the Eurodollar market. The forces of market integration set by the Bretton Woods system was going through.[10]

Personal life

In 1942, she married Denis Merritt (died 1993); they had one son and one daughter, and the marriage was dissolved in 1955. In 1955 she married Clifford Selly, with whom she had three sons, and one daughter.[3]


  • Strange, Susan (1971). Sterling and British Policy: A Political Study of an International Currency in Decline. London etc.: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0192149855.[11]
  • International Economic Relations of the Western World, 1959-1971: International Monetary Relations (1976)
  • Casino Capitalism (1986) ISBN 0-7190-5235-1
  • States and Markets (1988) ISBN 0-8264-7389-X
  • Strange, Susan (1989). "'I Never Meant to Be an Academic'". In Kruzel, Joseph; Rosenau, James N. (eds.). Journeys Through World Politics: Autobiographical Reflections of Thirty-four Academic Travellers. Lexington: Lexington Books. pp. 429–436. OCLC 18561394 (all editions). Archived from the original on 31 January 2021. Retrieved 31 January 2021.
  • Rival States, Rival Firms: Competition for World Market Shares with John M. Stopford and John S. Henley (1991) ISBN 0-521-42386-4
  • The Retreat of the State: The Diffusion of Power in the World Economy (1996) ISBN 0-521-56429-8
  • Mad Money: When Markets Outgrow Governments (1998) ISBN 0-472-06693-5


  1. ^ a b c d Brown, Chris (July 1999). "Susan Strange: A Critical Appreciation". Review of International Studies. 25 (3): 531–535. doi:10.1017/s0260210599005318. JSTOR 20097617.
  2. ^ Baker 2004.
  3. ^ a b Gautam Sen. "Obituary: Professor Susan Strange | Culture". The Independent. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  4. ^ Cohen, Benjamin J (2007). "The transatlantic divide: Why are American and British IPE so different?". Review of International Political Economy. 14 (2): 208. doi:10.1080/09692290701288277. S2CID 16476865.
  5. ^ Halliday, Fred (24 September 2008). "The revenge of ideas: Karl Polanyi and Susan Strange". openDemocracy. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  6. ^ William Coleman; Alina Sajed (26 June 2013). Fifty Key Thinkers on Globalization. p. 232. ISBN 9781136163944. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  7. ^ "Presidents of ISA". Isanet.org. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
  8. ^ "Susan Strange 1923-1998: a great international relations theorist". Review of International Political Economy. 6 (2): 121–132. 1 January 1999. doi:10.1080/096922999347254. ISSN 0969-2290.
  9. ^ Macmillan., Palgrave (2015). Global politics. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137349262. OCLC 979008143.
  10. ^ Strange, Susan, Casino Capitalism, Manchester University Press, 1986, pp. 1–48
  11. ^ Review of Strange 1971: Conan, A. (1971). "(review of) Sterling and British Policy by S. Strange". The Economic Journal. 81 (324): 998–1000. doi:10.2307/2230361. JSTOR 2230361.


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