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Chapter

Cover Contemporary Security Studies

29. After the Return to Theory: The Past, Present, and Future of Security Studies  

Ole Wæver and Barry Buzan

This chapter presents an interpretation of the past and present of security studies with an emphasis on the changing periods of theory production and practical problem solving. The field started out as a distinct US specialty much shaped by the new conditions of the 1940s set by nuclear weapons and a long-term mobilization against the Soviet Union, two factors that created a need for a new kind of civilian expert in defence and strategy. From an American, think-tank-based, interdisciplinary field, security studies became institutionalized as a part of one discipline, International Relations (IR), increasingly international and with theory anchored in the universities. Since the 1990s, the field has been in a new period of high theory productivity, but largely in two separate clusters with the USA and Europe as centres of each. This analysis is used as a basis for raising some central questions and predictions about the future of the field.

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.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

7. Social Constructivism  

This chapter examines the social constructivist theory of IR. It first discusses the rise of social constructivism and why it has established itself as an important approach in IR. It then considers constructivism as social theory, and more specifically as both a meta-theory about the nature of the social world and as a set of substantial theories of IR. Several examples of constructivist IR theory are presented, followed by reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of the constructivist approach. The chapter proceeds by exploring constructivist theories of international relations, focusing on cultures of anarchy, norms of International Society, the power of international organizations, a constructivist approach to European cooperation, and domestic formation of identity and norms. The chapter concludes with an analysis of some of the major criticisms of constructivism and by emphasizing internal debates within constructivism.

Chapter

Cover Introduction to International Relations: Theories and Approaches

2. IR as an Academic Subject  

This chapter examines how thinking about international relations (IR) has evolved since IR became an academic subject around the time of the First World War. The focus is on four established IR traditions: realism, liberalism, International Society, and International Political Economy (IPE). The chapter first considers three major debates that have arisen since IR became an academic subject at the end of the First World War: the first was between utopian liberalism and realism; the second between traditional approaches and behaviouralism; the third between neorealism/neoliberalism and neo-Marxism. There is an emerging fourth debate, that between established traditions and post-positivist alternatives. The chapter concludes with an analysis of alternative approaches that challenge the established traditions of IR, and with a discussion about criteria for good theory in IR.