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Cover International Relations Theories

17. Still a Discipline After All These Debates?  

Ole Wæver

This chapter considers how the arguments associated with the different theories of International Relations discussed in the book sum up. More specifically, it asks whether IR is (still?) a discipline, and whether it is likely to remain one. The chapter examines the intellectual and social patterns of IR and the discipline as a social system, along with its relations of power, privilege, and careers. It also reflects on where, what, and how IR is today by drawing on theories from the sociology of science, whether IR can be regarded as a subdiscipline within political science, and the social structure of IR. It argues that the discipline of international relations is likely to continue whether or not ‘international relations’ remains a distinct or delineable object. It also contends that the core of the intellectual structure in the discipline of IR has been recurring ‘great debates’.


Cover Issues in Political Theory

5. Power  

David Owen

This chapter assesses power, a basic concept of political theory. In its most fundamental sense, power is a dispositional concept that refers to the capacity to affect some feature of the world and the capacity to produce effects with respect to those feature of the world. The concept of power is closely bound in social and political contexts to the concepts of freedom and responsibility. There are different modes of power: power to, power with, power over, and power of. The power of an agent typically depends on the context of power in which they are situated and on the relations in which they stand to other agents within broader social structures. Moreover, exercises of power are always mediated — and, indeed, we often distinguishes forms of social and political power in terms of prominent general media through which they are exercised. The chapter then considers the three-dimensional view of power.


Cover Foreign Policy

6. Actors, structures, and foreign policy analysis  

Walter Carlsnaes

This chapter examines how actors and structures make foreign policy an extremely complicated field of study and how, in view of this complexity, these actors and structures have been treated in the literature on foreign policy analysis. It first provides a historical background on the field of foreign policy before discussing the role of actors and structures in ‘process’ and ‘policy’ approaches to foreign policy. In particular, it describes approaches to foreign policy based on a structural perspective, namely: realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and social constructivism. It then considers evaluates approaches from an actor-based perspective: cognitive and psychological approaches, bureaucratic politics approach, new liberalism, and interpretative actor perspective. The chapter also looks at the agency–structure problem and asks whether an integrated framework is feasible before concluding with a recommendation of how to resolve the former in terms of a constructive answer to the latter.


Cover European Union Politics

14. Interest Groups and the European Union  

Rainer Eising and Julia Sollik

This chapter examines the role of interest groups in European Union (EU) politics. It also considers the way in which the EU institutions influence interest group structures and activities. The chapter begins with an overview of the relationship between the EU institutions and interest groups and the proceddures of lobbying before examining the steps taken thus far to regulate that relationship. It then looks at the evolution and the structure of the interest group system, focusing in particular on two salient aspects: the difference between national and EU organizations; and the difference between specific and diffuse interests.


Cover Human Rights

The Social Life of Human Rights  

Damien Short

This chapter looks into the development of sociological approaches to the study of human rights. It explains how sociology covered the ride of human rights through shared human vulnerability and collective sympathy, institutional threats, and assertion of powerful class interests, while anthropology deepened the understanding of socially constructed rights. Sociologists tend to view rights as inventions or products of human social interaction and power relations. The chapter then expounds on the concept of social constructionism in relation to power and social structure. It also explains that an ethnographic approach to human rights showcases how human rights function and their meaning to different social actors in varying social contexts.


Cover European Integration Theory

7. Social Constructivism and European Integration  

Thomas Risse

The chapter presents a short overview on social constructivism as a distinct research programme and shows what it contributes to the study of European integration. Social constructivism represents a meta-theory or an ontology, not one more substantive theory of European integration. The substantive contribution of social constructivism to the various theories of European integration is to insist on taking meaning construction, discourse, and language seriously, and to point out the mutual constitution of agency and structure. Moreover, social constructivism emphasizes the constitutive features of social institutions including the EU as not just constraining behaviour, but also affecting the identities, interests, and preferences of actors. The chapter then uses the question of European identity to illustrate empirically social constructivism ‘at work’. A constructivist account of the euro and the migration crises demonstrates that European political leaders reacted largely to the mobilization of exclusive-nationalist identities by (mostly) right-wing populist parties and movements. In sum, the social constructivist research programme in EU studies has quickly left the stage of meta-theorizing and concern for ontology and epistemology behind, and has now entered the realm of concrete empirical work dealing with real puzzles of European political life.


Cover Comparative European Politics

1. Electoral Systems  

Jean-Benoit Pilet and Alan Renwick

This chapter examines the variety of electoral systems in Europe. Electoral systems lie at the heart of democratic politics, influencing who citizens’ representatives are and having profound effects upon politics at large. The authors start by presenting the variety of electoral systems used across Europe, focusing on three key dimensions: electoral formulas, district magnitudes, and ballot structures. Then they discuss some of the main developments in electoral systems in Europe since 1945, highlighting shifts towards limited proportional systems and more ‘personalized’ systems. Finally, they probe deeper into the consequences of electoral systems, looking at effects on the nature of competition both between and within political parties.


Cover Politics

10. Institutions and States  

This chapter explores the relationship between the state and institutions and how political scientists theorize about them. It first provides an overview of the concept of institutions and the range of factors that structure political behaviour, noting how political, economic, and social factors determine particular outcomes, which are in turn influenced by ‘structure’ and ‘agency’. It then considers the multifaceted concept of the state and the rise of the European state, focusing in particular on the ways in which the European type of state and state system spread around the world between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. The chapter goes on to discuss the modern state and some of the differences between strong states, weak states, and democratic states, suggesting that states need legitimacy and robust institutions to be strong.


Cover Research Methods in the Social Sciences: An A-Z of key concepts

Social Network Analysis  

The Significance of Relations

Jean-Frédéric Morin, Christian Olsson, and Ece Özlem Atikcan

This chapter studies Social Network Analysis (SNA), which is a methods toolbox for analysing the patterning of social ties and explaining how and why those patterns emerge and what consequences they have for social actors. Social networks are ubiquitous in the social world, either unfolding in face-to-face interactions or digitally. In recent decades, SNA has grown in popularity, appealing broadly to students interested in complex social structures. The recent availability of data based on digital traces of social relations (e.g. emails or social media profiles) has further prompted students to study these network structures. Analysing how actors are connected through other actors via paths may indicate how e.g. information or resources flow through the network via these ties.


Cover International Relations of the Middle East

4. The Middle East Since the Cold War: Movement without Progress  

Bahgat Korany

This chapter focuses on the Middle East during the post-Cold-War era. It introduces some the key themes that have come to dominate contemporary international relations of the Middle East: oil; new and old conflicts; the impacts of globalization; and religio-politics. In considering the major security patterns and trends in the Middle East, one finds a number of enduring issues, such as the Arab–Israeli conflict and border disputes. At the same time, one can see elements of change, both within these conflicts and with the emergence of recent threats, such as Iranian nuclearization, with profound consequences for regional alliance structures. As old and new security issues mingle in the geopolitical order, events of the past few years reflect a region dominated by conflict clusters. It is no surprise then that the Middle East remains a highly militarized region.


Cover Political Research

12. Interviewing and Focus Groups  

This chapter considers different types and forms of interviewing, including focus groups, and how they should be conducted. Interviews are a popular method of data collection in political research. They share similarities with surveys, but these similarities relate mostly to structured interviews. The chapter focuses on semi-structured interviews, including focus groups, the emphasis of which is to get the interviewee to open up and discuss something of relevance to the research question. After describing the different types and forms of interview, the chapter explains how interview data can be used to confirm or disconfirm a hypothesis or argument. It also shows how to plan and carry out an interview and how the type and wording of questions, as well as the order in which they are asked, affect the responses you get. Finally, it examines the interviewing skills that will ensure a more successful outcome to an interview.


Cover Politics in the European Union

25. Common Foreign and Security Policy  

This chapter examines the European Union’s (EU’s) Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). It tells the story of increasing co-operation between member states on foreign policy matters, first with European Political Co-operation (EPC) and, since the 1990s, with CFSP and a Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The chapter highlights the internal dynamics and external events that drove the member states towards such co-operation and considers the most recent example of such efforts: the 2017 attempt to create a system of permanent structured co-operation (PESCO). However, it is noted that the EU remains far from having a truly supranational foreign policy and there remains a reluctance from member states to push much further integration, given states’ keen desire to remain sovereign in this area. Finally, the chapter considers the EU’s status as a ‘power’ in international relations, noting that it has diminished in important respects since 2003, but remains an important economic power.


Cover Political Research

10. Historical Research  

This chapter focuses on the distinctions between historical research and social scientific research, and how these are being challenged by scholars in pursuit of a genuinely ‘historical social science’. It begins with a discussion of historical approaches in Politics and International Relations, including historical events research, historical process research, and cross-sectional comparative research. It then examines three approaches for addressing temporality as the sequential active unfolding of social action and events: historical institutionalism, process tracing, and event structure analysis. It also explains how to locate essential historical information and evaluate various types of sources, and what special considerations need to be made in using documents, archival sources, and historical writing as data in historical research.