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Stephanie Lawson

Global Politics is an introduction to international relations. It introduces the key theories and concepts underpinning the discipline, providing a foundation for the study of politics on both a personal and global scale, including issues relating to gender, sexuality, and ethnicity, as well as the economy, environment, and concepts of justice. The text presents theories in their historical context, demonstrating how they can evolve over time. Case studies, both contemporary and historical, and biographies of key figures, help bring these issues to life. Additional features, such as key debates and summary questions, provide opportunities to analyse issues from a range of perspectives.


This chapter examines four of the most important contemporary issues in international relations (IR): international terrorism, religion, the environment, and balance and hegemony in world history. It also considers the different ways in which these issues are analysed by the various theories presented in this book. The chapter begins with a discussion of what the issue is about in empirical terms, the problems raised and why they are claimed to be important, and the relative significance of the issue on the agenda of IR. It then explores the nature of the theoretical challenge that the issues present to IR and how classical and contemporary theories handle the analysis of these issues. The chapter addresses Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, the influence of religion on politics, opposing views on the environment issue, and how throughout history different state systems have come to equilibrate on either balance of power or hegemony.


This chapter examines five main approaches in comparative politics that represent important contributions: old and new institutional analysis, interest approach, ideas approach, individual approach, and the influence of the international environment. The role of ‘interaction’ is also explored. After explaining the use of theory in comparative political analysis, the chapter considers structural functionalism, systems theory, Marxism, corporatism, institutionalism, governance, and comparative political economy. It also discusses behavioural and rational choice approaches, how political culture helps to understand political behaviour in different countries, self-interest in politics, and the implications of globalization for comparative politics. The chapter concludes by assessing the importance of looking at political processes and of defining what the ‘dependent variables’ are.


This chapter assesses the global political economy of the environment. The growth of the world economy is transforming the Earth's environment. Nothing is particularly controversial about this statement. Yet, sharp disagreements arise over the nature of this transformation. Is the globalization of capitalism a force of progress and environmental solutions? Or is it a cause of the current global environmental crisis? The chapter addresses these questions by examining the debates around some of the most contentious issues at the core of economic globalization and the environment: economic growth, production, and consumption; trade; and transnational investment. It begins with a glance at the general arguments about how the global political economy affects the global environment. The chapter then traces the history of global environmentalism — in particular, the emergence of international environmental institutions with the norm of sustainable development. It also evaluates the effectiveness of North–South environmental financing and international environmental regimes.