THE BRICS COUNTRIES (BRAZIL, RUSSIA, INDIA, AND CHINA) AS ANALYTICAL CATEGORY: MIRAGE OR INSIGHT? [PDF] by Leslie Elliott Armijo, ASIAN PERSPECTIVE, Vol. 31, No. 4, 2007, pp. 7-42.
American hegemony has passed its peak. The twenty-first century will see a more multi-polar international system. Yet Western European countries may not be the United States main foils in decades to come. Four new poles of the international system are now widely known in the business and financial press as the BRICs economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). Does the concept of the BRICs have meaning within a rigorous political science framing? From the perspective of an economic liberal employing neoclassical assumptions to understand the world economy, the categorys justification is surprisingly weak. In contrast, a political or economic realists framing instructs us to focus on states that are increasing their relative material capabilitiesas each of the four is. Finally, within a liberal institutionalists mental model, the BRICs countries are a compelling set, yet one with a deep cleavage between two sub-groups: large emerging powers likely to remain authoritarian or revert to that state, and those that are securely democratic.