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Book

Cover International Relations Theories

Edited by Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith

The fifth edition of this text provides coverage of international relations theories and arguments. The chapters explore the full spectrum of theoretical perspectives and debates, ranging from the historically dominant traditions of realism, liberalism, and Marxism to poststructuralism, green theory, and Global IR. Each chapter is dedicated to a particular theory and features a case study that bridges theory and practice, and shows how theory can be used to explain real-world political dilemmas. Spotlights on key books and articles encourage readers to go beyond the textbook and explore important works in the field, and new case study questions encourage analytical thinking and help readers understand the value of applying theory to concrete political problems.

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Cover Foreign Policy

2. Realism and foreign policy  

William C. Wohlforth

This chapter considers how familiarity with realist theory improves foreign policy analysis (FPA), focusing on two features of realism that are often in tension with each other: its firm grounding in centuries of real foreign policy practice, and its aspiration to create powerful general theories that help to simplify and explain the international setting in which foreign policy takes place. The chapter begins with a discussion of the main theoretical schools within realism, namely, classical realism, defensive realism, offensive realism, and neoclassical realism, as well as theories within realism: balance of power theory, balance of threat theory, hegemonic stability theory, and power transition theory. It also examines how realism is applied to the analysis and practice of foreign policy and highlights the main pitfalls in applying realist theories to FPA. Finally, it evaluates some guidelines for avoiding those pitfalls and using realist insights to sharpen the analysis of foreign policy.

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Cover Foreign Policy

Introduction  

Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield, and Tim Dunne

This text examines the dynamics that shape foreign policy using international relations (IR) theory. Combining theories and case studies with actors, it explores the grand principles at work in foreign policy, both as a form of state behaviour and as an intellectual field. Chapters illustrate the complementarity between individual, state, and structural dynamics of IR, and levels of analysis found in foreign policy analysis. They discuss the relevance to foreign policy of the main IR theories: realism, liberalism, and constructivism, alongside the tool of discourse analysis. This introduction provides an overview of the contemporary relevance of the study of foreign policy; some of the definitional issues concerning the study of foreign policy; and the book’s updated organization.

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Cover Global Politics

5. New Waves of Theorizing in Global Politics  

This chapter evaluates new modes of theorizing in global politics. These are based on long-standing concerns in social and political theory and all of them involve identity politics in one way or another—a form of politics in which an individual’s membership of a group, based on certain distinctive characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality, acquires significant political salience and is implicated in hierarchies of power. It follows that identity itself involves issues of both who an individual is, and who that individual is not. This involves not just self-identification or self-definition, but is also mediated by the perceptions of others. In some cases there are connections with social movements concerned with issues of justice and equality in both domestic and global spheres. In almost all cases the specific issues of concern, and their theorization, have come relatively late to the agenda of global politics and so may be said to constitute a ‘new wave’ of theorizing in the discipline. The chapter looks at feminism, gender theory, racism, cultural theory, colonialism, and postcolonial theory.

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Cover International Relations Theories

Introduction: Diversity and Disciplinarity in International Relations Theory  

Steve Smith

This text argues that theory is central to explaining International Relations (IR) and that the discipline of IR is much more relevant to the world of international relations than it has been at any point in its history. Some chapters cover distinct IR theories ranging from realism/structural realism to liberalism/neoliberalism, the English school, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, feminism, poststructuralism, green theory, and postcolonialism. Oher chapters explore International Relations theory and its relationship to social science, normative theory, globalization, and the discipline’s identity. This introduction explains why this edition has chosen to cover these theories, reflects on international theory and its relationship to the world, and considers the kind of assumptions about theory that underlie each of the approaches.

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Cover Politics in the Developing World

1. Changing Analytical Approaches to the Study of Politics in the Developing World  

Vicky Randall

This chapter discusses the main broad analytical approaches or frameworks of interpretation that have been used in studying politics in the developing world. It first considers two contrasting broad approaches that long dominated political analysis of developing countries. The first was a politics of modernization that gave rise to political development theory, then to revised versions of that approach. The second was a Marxist-inspired approach that gave rise to dependency theory and, subsequently, to neo-Marxist analysis. The chapter also examines globalization theory and critical responses to globalization as neoliberal ideology, which have been associated with the ‘anti-globalization movement’ and have included arguments about orientalism and ‘post-development’ theory. Finally, it explores the strategies, categories, and more specific methods of analysis that have been typically deployed to assess the politics of developing countries.

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Cover Global Politics

4. Critical Approaches to Global Politics  

This chapter investigates critical approaches to global politics. While liberal and realist theorists probe each other’s ideas for faults and weaknesses, neither have challenged capitalism and its implications for social, economic, and political order. Marxism, on the other hand, which developed around the mid-nineteenth century, has provided very different perspectives and presents a significant challenge for mainstream approaches to global order in both theory and practice. Post-Marxist Critical Theory, along with historical sociology and world-systems theory, emerged in the twentieth century, giving rise to schools of thought which continue the critique of capitalism and the social and political forces underpinning it. Meanwhile, ideas arising from social theory, such as the extent to which perceptions of reality are socially conditioned and indeed ‘constructed’, achieved greater prominence following the end of the Cold War, an event which prompted many scholars to start asking new questions about global politics and the assumptions on which traditional theories rested. Constructivism, postmodernism, and poststructuralism remain concerned with issues of power and justice but provide different lenses through which these issues may be viewed in the sphere of global politics.

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Cover International Relations Theories

1. International Relations and Social Science  

Milja Kurki and Colin Wight

This chapter focuses on the major debates within International Relations (IR) theory with regard to the philosophy of social science. The philosophy of social science has played a key role in the formation, development, and practice of IR as an academic discipline. Issues concerning the philosophy of social science are frequently described as meta-theoretical debates. Meta-theory primarily deals with the underlying assumptions of all theory and attempts to understand the consequences of such assumptions on the act of theorizing and the practice of empirical research. The chapter first provides an historical overview of the philosophy of social science in IR before discussing both the implicit and explicit roles played by meta-theoretical assumptions in IR. It then considers the contemporary disciplinary debates surrounding the philosophy of social science and concludes by analysing how theoretical approaches to the study of world politics have been shaped by meta-theoretical ideas.

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Cover International Relations Theories

11. Poststructuralism  

David Campbell and Roland Bleiker

This chapter examines how and why poststructuralism engaged International Relations (IR) from the 1980s to today. It begins by analysing the interdisciplinary context of social and political theory from which poststructuralism emerged, along with the misconceptions evident in the reception of the poststructuralist approach among mainstream theorists. It then considers what the critical attitude of poststructuralism means for social and political inquiry and draws on the work of Michel Foucault to highlight the importance of discourse, identity, subjectivity, and power to the poststructuralist approach. It also discusses the methodological features employed by poststructuralists in their readings of, and interventions in, international politics. The chapter concludes with a case study of images of famines and other kinds of humanitarian crises that illustrates the poststructural approach.

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Cover Global Politics

8. Empire  

This chapter contests the myth that imperialism has ended by showing how imperial attitudes, racialised power hierarchies, and material inequalities that structured the era of empires remain in place today. It discusses why the field of International Relations conventionally sidelined the issues of imperialism and racism. Dismantling structural racism and imperialism requires long-term work on many fronts. Campaigns combining Postcolonial and Decolonial theories like ‘Rhodes Must Fall’ and ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ have resulted in new publications and toolkits that decolonise the university. The chapter also recognises the need to review programmes, modules, and reading lists to include perspectives from outside the West, as colonialism and imperialism are at work in core disciplinary concepts and theories.

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Cover International Relations Theories

12. Postcolonialism  

Shampa Biswas

This chapter examines postcolonial approaches to International Relations (IR) and their foregrounding of the history and politics of colonialism in the making of the modern world. It first considers the concerns, issues, and preoccupations highlighted by postcolonial theory, along with some of the central debates that have shaped its intellectual terrain, and the normative and political commitments that distinguish it from other related fields such as Marxism and poststructuralism. It then discusses the relevance of postcolonialism to the study of international relations and proposes three different ways of engaging with the insights of postcolonial theory within IR that open up new questions, alternative methodologies, and a range of possibilities for narrating a postcolonial IR. Finally, it analyses international concerns about Iran’s nuclear weapons programme from a postcolonial perspective.

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Cover International Relations Theories

8. Critical Theory  

Steven C. Roach

This chapter examines the various assumptions of critical theory espoused by the Frankfurt school, with particular emphasis on how the Frankfurt school’s critiques of authoritarianism and repression influenced the critical interventions by International Relations (IR) theorists. The chapter focuses on two major strands of critical International Relations theory: normative theory and the Marxist-based critique of the political economy. After providing an overview of the Frankfurt school and critical IR theory, the chapter explores critical theorists’ views on universal morality and political economy. It then discusses Jürgen Habermas’s ideas in international relations and presents a case study of the Arab Spring. It concludes by analysing the concept of critical reflexivity and how it can show knowledge and social reality are co-produced through social interaction, and how this interaction can, in turn, produce practical or empirical knowledge of the changing moral and legal dynamics of prominent global institutions.

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Cover The Politics of International Law

2. International law and international relations theory  

This chapter discusses international law (IL) and international relations (IR) theory. It studies legal theory in order to better understand what law is, and how IL compares with domestic law. The chapter then introduces the major schools of IR theory, with a focus on how they conceptualize IL and its role in enabling and constraining the conduct of international politics. The disciplinary estrangement between IR and IL began to ease at the end of the 1980s. By that time there were already important strands within IR, including the English School, that were seeking to explain the prevalence of cooperation in an anarchical international system. New generations of IR scholars began theorizing the role of IL in structuring international politics, particularly from the perspectives of liberalism and constructivism, as well as from a range of critical approaches.

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Cover International Relations Theories

14. Green Theory  

Robyn Eckersley

This chapter examines how environmental concerns have influenced International Relations theory. It first provides a brief overview of the ecological crisis and the emergence of green theorizing in the social sciences and humanities in general, along with the status and impact of environmental issues and green thinking in IR theory. It then investigates green theory’s transnational turn and how it has become more global, while critical IR theory has become increasingly green. It also considers the different ways in which environmental issues have influenced the evolution of traditional IR theory. It concludes with a case study of climate change to illustrate the diversity of theoretical approaches, including the distinctiveness of green theories.

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Cover Global Politics

12. Conclusion Justice and the Future of Global Politics  

This concluding chapter draws together some of the themes running throughout this book to address some key issues of justice and the future of global politics. In addition to outlining the concept of global justice, it deals with two contrasting normative approaches to issues in global politics, namely, cosmopolitanism and communitarianism, taking particular note of the debates that emerged in the post-Cold War period and which have been especially important for the analysis of human rights. The chapter looks at how these approaches map onto opposing strands of thought within the English school, namely, solidarism and pluralism. It then moves on to some specific issues in contemporary global politics involving the application of normative theory—citizenship, migration, and refugees. Finally, the chapter considers issues of intergenerational justice with respect to the normative links between past, present, and future and the responsibilities these entail.

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Cover The Globalization of World Politics

10. Feminism  

Helen M. Kinsella

This chapter examines international feminism, focusing on whether feminist international relations theories are necessary for understanding international politics, what basis feminist international relations theories provide for understanding international politics, and how feminist international relations theories have influenced the practice of international politics. The chapter proceeds by explaining feminism and feminist international relations theory as well as feminist conceptions of gender and power. It also discusses four feminist international relations theories: liberal feminist international relations, critical feminist international relations, postcolonial feminist international relations, and poststructural feminist international relations. Two case studies of women's organizations are presented: the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

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Cover The Globalization of World Politics

13. Social constructivism  

Michael Barnett

This chapter examines constructivist approaches to international relations theory. It explores whether there is a possibility of moral progress in world politics, whether some cultures and countries are more (or less) inherently violent, and whether states are motivated by power or by ideas. The chapter also discusses the rise of constructivism and some key concepts of constructivism, including the agent–structure problem, holism, idealism, individualism, materialism, and rational choice. It concludes with an analysis of constructivist assumptions about global change. Two case studies are presented, one relating to social construction of refugees and the 2015 European migration crisis, and the other considers what it means to be a ‘victim’.

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Cover International Relations Theories

13. Normative International Relations Theory  

Toni Erskine

This chapter deals with normative international relations theory, a field of study that relies on a variety of approaches and theories to explore moral expectations, decisions, and dilemmas in world politics. Normative IR theory has adopted—and adapted—conceptual categories such as communitarianism and cosmopolitanism from political theory. It also borrows from moral philosophy to designate different types of ethical reasoning, such as deontology and consequentialism. The chapter begins with an overview of the history, influences, and some of the categories that normative IR theory brings to the study of international relations. It then examines the ways in which normative IR theory engages with the hidden ethical assumptions of a range of IR approaches. The case study considers the ethics of war in the Iraq war.

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Cover International Relations Theories

15. International Relations Theory and Globalization  

Colin Hay

This chapter examines the existing debate on the extent and nature of globalization and its implications for contemporary International Relations theory. It first considers the stakes involved in the globalization debate for a range of core theoretical perspectives in IR. It shows how the literature on globalization has developed over time, revealing how the nature of the debate has changed, and illustrates this both theoretically and empirically with a case study of the impact of globalization on the development of the welfare state before and since the global financial crisis. The chapter also considers the empirical case against the globalization thesis, what a competition state is, and how it might confer a competitive advantage upon a national economy in an era of globalization. The chapter suggests that the current level of interdependence within the international system, although considerable, is not easily reconciled with the stronger variants of the globalization thesis.

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Cover International Relations Theories

7. Marxism  

Mark Rupert

This chapter examines Marxist theory’s understanding of capitalism as an historically particular way of organizing social life and how Marxism can shed light on complex social relationships through which human beings produce and reproduce their social relations, the natural world, and themselves. It argues that the kind of social organization envisioned by Marxists has political, cultural, and economic dimensions that must be viewed as a dynamic ensemble of social relations not necessarily contained within the territorial boundaries of nation-states. The chapter first provides an overview of historical materialism and the meaning of dialectical theory, with particular emphasis on Karl Marx’s critique of capitalism and the Marxist tradition’s theorizing of imperialism, before discussing Western Marxism and Antonio Gramsci’s theory of hegemony. It then considers Marxist concepts of global power and hegemony and concludes with a case study that highlights the social relations underlying US global militarism.