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Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

3. Realism  

This chapter examines the realist tradition in international relations (IR), which is best seen as a research programme with several approaches using a common starting point. It highlights an important dichotomy in realist thought between classical realism and contemporary realism, including strategic and structural approaches. After describing the elements of realism, the chapter discusses the international thought of three outstanding classical realists of the past: Thucydides, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Thomas Hobbes. It then analyses the classical realist thought of Hans J. Morgenthau, along with strategic realism, neorealism, and neoclassical realism. Special attention is devoted to the defensive realism of Kenneth Waltz and the offensive realism of John Mearsheimer. Furthermore, the chapter looks at the recent theoretical debate among realist IR scholars concerning the relevance of the balance of power concept and it shows that realists often disagree among themselves. The chapter concludes with an overview of how the different realist theories treat international and domestic factors.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

11. Major Issues in IR: Climate Change, Terrorism, Religion, Power and Hegemony  

This chapter examines four of the most important issues in international relations (IR): climate change, international terrorism, religion, 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 how climate change has become a first order challenge of international relations and IR theories, Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ thesis, the influence of religion on politics, and how throughout history different state systems have come to equilibrate on either balance of power or hegemony.