Could this be the worst analogy ever? - "Like tinsel at a family Christmas party, it looks pretty but it does not alter underlying social dynamics."
Which is nice, 'cause last year I set up the Christmas tree and was totally pissed off when the tinsel stubbornly refused to alter my lounge room's underlying social dynamics even one bit.
Turns out I'd set my expectations a touch high though, as Christian Reus-Smit (page 350, The Globalization of World Politics) has now explained.
Tinsel just ain't as tough as it used to be I guess.