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Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

12. The Big Question: World Order or World Chaos?  

This final chapter addresses a really big question: are international relations heading towards order or chaos? To answer this question, it interrogates the different IR theories presented in previous chapters. An initial section provides a conceptual map, based on a review of different understandings of the concept of world order. The chapter proceeds by discussing the effect of the rise of authoritarian power such as China, new challenges in established democracies, fragile states in the Global South, and the governance provided by international institutions. The chapter ends by arguing that the glass is at the same time half-full and half-empty: the world faces new and formidable challenges and we are very far from meeting current aspirations for world order; at the same time, global relations are much more ordered than they used to be just a few generations ago—and things are far better than many pessimists claim.