1st Edition

Small States and Shelter Theory Iceland’s External Affairs

Edited By Baldur Thorhallsson Copyright 2019
    242 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    242 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Small states are dependent on the economic, political, and societal shelter provided by larger states and international organizations to survive and prosper.

    Iceland provides an ideal case study for shelter theory, due both to its smallness as compared with its larger neighbouring states, as well as its status as both an entity and then as a state. That Iceland has historically been so isolated, relative to other small European states, also makes it easier to trace the country’s interactions with other actors, since the impact of each interaction can be measured more definitively thus broadening the theory’s validity and offering new insights into its operations. The contributors to this volume focus on the extent of Iceland’s external engagement with other states and the domestic consequences of this interaction. Societal shelter, in terms of transfer of norms and values, is as of much importance as economic and political shelter. By unpacking the structure of Iceland’s external relations, this book demonstrates both the size-related disadvantages and the unique needs of small states to evaluate, explain, and predict small state behaviour.

    This book will be of interest to all scholars in international relations, especially those interested in small state behaviour.


    Baldur Thorhallsson

    Part I: Small States and Shelter Theory

    1. The Small State in International Relations

    Baldur Thorhallsson, Sverrir Steinsson and Thorsteinn Kristinsson

    2. A Theory of Shelter

    Baldur Thorhallsson and Sverrir Steinsson

    Part II: Iceland’s External Affairs from the British and American Occupations up to the Present

    3. Shelter during the American Period: Icelandic Relations with the US and International Organizations

    Baldur Thorhallsson, Sverrir Steinsson, Thorsteinn Kristinsson and Daniel J. Devine

    4. Nordic Cooperation and Shelter Implications

    Baldur Thorhallsson, Sverrir Steinsson and Thorsteinn Kristinsson

    5. European Integration: Genuine or False Shelter?

    Baldur Thorhallsson

    Part III: Opportunities and Challenges for Small States in the Twenty-First Century

    6. Iceland’s Shelter Options in the New Millennium

    Baldur Thorhallsson and Sverrir Steinsson

    7. Why Shelter Theory Matters: Ramifications for International Relations and Small State Studies

    Anders Wivel and Christine Ingebritsen


    Baldur Thorhallsson is Professor at the Faculty of Political Science at the University of Iceland. He is also Jean Monnet Chair in European Studies and Programme and Research Director at the Centre for Small States at the University. His research focus is primarily on small state studies, European integration and Iceland's foreign policy. He has published extensively in international journals. He has contributed to several academic books and written two books on small states in Europe.

    ‘Deriving a new theory of shelter-seeking behavior from the case of Iceland, this innovative book contributes greatly to our knowledge of how the strategies of small states help shape the spheres of influence of large states. To understand the power of the large and strong we must understand the agility of the small and weak.’ - Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter C. Carpenter Jr. Professor of International Studies, Cornell University, USA.

    ‘This book is a must-read for scholars and practitioners interested in small states in international relations. The authors demonstrate conceptually and empirically how smaller states can benefit from bigger state shelters and reflect upon current challenges and opportunities.’ - Diana Panke, Professor for Political Science at the University of Freiburg and holder of the chair in Multilevel Governance, Germany.

    ‘Small states depend considerably on what happens beyond their shores. Given this predicament, they leverage protection from the same exogenous environment that threatens their survival and prosperity. By using Iceland to exemplify the use of shelter theory, this book offers powerful insights into the behaviour of small states in the international system.’ - Godfrey Baldacchino, Pro-Rector and Professor of Sociology, University of Malta, Malta.