Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Joe Hagan

Committee Co-Chair

Jamie Elizabeth Jacobs


This work contends that the current systemic view of hegemonic systems is incorrect. On one hand hegemonic actors are conceptualized as omnipotent actors that can mold the system to best reflect its goals. Still, others illustrate that such unipolar systems can never be achieved, or at best exist for a short time as other powers move to rebalance the international system. Mearsheimer illustrates a more realistic approach, that unbalanced multipolar systems can exist, in which a larger state is present in a traditional multipolar system, not a traditional vertical authority structure. He contends that such a system is transient, for this larger power will eventually be reined in by other actors. This piece contends that these unbalanced systems are reality, and that current thought relies only on systemic notions and does not realize other constraints that can maintain system stability for significant durations of time.;The theory developed in this work is based upon a series of three hegemonic constraints: international regime constraints, domestic political constraints, and the degree of hegemonic power concentration. This work maintains that these "hegemonic handcuffs" can restrain the actions of the dominant state in the international system so as to preclude traditional balancing behavior by the remaining great powers in the system, until a point in time in which the hegemonic actor begins to cast off its shackles. It is at this point in a hegemons life that the remaining great powers begin to balance the power of the dominant state, hence signaling the end of the hegemonic actor's supremacy. The work utilizes the cases of Spain under Philip II, France under Napoleon III, and Germany under Bismarck in a structured focus framework to delve in to the theory in question.