Structure, agency and transatlantic relations in the Trump era

John Peterson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


No question encountered in the social sciences can be answered without appeal to some notion of the relative importance of structure versus agency. International relations (IR) appears to be entering an era of shifting global power as the world waits to see how Donald Trump's 'America first' agenda plays out. Will the structure of the international system constrain Trump as a change agent? Or will the Trump administration's agency lead to wrenching changes that threaten both the liberal international order and transatlantic alliance? This paper resorts to debates about structure v. agency in IR to argue that crossroads have been reached at 3 levels: the international system, transatlantic relations, and democratic politics. All are linked to one another in terms of outcomes, but it is perhaps the domestic level - where the negative externalities of globalization must be confronted - where changes are needed most urgently.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-652
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of European Integration
Issue number5
Early online date8 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • structure
  • agency
  • Donald Trump
  • Europe
  • transatlantic relations


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