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Theories of International Relations

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Nakissa Jahanbani

on 14 December 2014

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Transcript of Theories of International Relations

Theories of International Relations
States are constantly managing their insecurity in an
anarchic international system.
Security Dilemma
) States, as the
sole actors
in international politics, are
and pursue their own
national interests
Power is the ultimate goal of states;
Defined by
material resources
relative power.
States will engage in
behavior (i.e. internal versus external balancing) to maintain a
balance of power
in the International System and prevent other states from gaining the preponderance of power (
relative gains
Distribution of capabilities/power is determined by the number of great powers in the international system
Weaknesses include
: anarchy versus hierarchy; morals and ethics; international structures.
One leader at the top of the state - only individual considered in classical realism.
Complex Realism: Thucydides
Includes certain moral considerations that are reinvoked under Morgenthau
Classical Realism: Hobbes, Machiavelli, Carr, Morgenthau
Individuals and groups are most important
The Individual is basically good and capable of cooperation.
The State respects the rights of the Individual and
their constituents in liberal social norms (e.g. individual freedoms, sovereignty of other states, etc.).
In response to classical realism, liberalism focuses on state's
as determining their behavior as well as
international institutions, norms, and laws.
Kant's "Perpetual Peace"
The International System is composed of numerous
regime types
(e.g. democratic, authoritarian, etc.) and is subject to change for better or worse (i.e. anarchy or cooperation is not fixed).
Peace can be achieved because
absolute gains
can be made through
(e.g. linking economic, cultural, and ideational across borders).
: cannot create patterns of behavior; all preferences differ; must add many constraining variables
Kant, Moravcsik, Nye, Slaughter, Oneal and Russett, Doyle.
Explanatory (i.e. first-cut), systems-level theory that seeks to explain patterns in great power warfare; how incentives and disincentives formulate state behavior.
In an
International System, States, as the unitary actor, are
and driven by
survival (i.e. security).
Distribution of capabilities/power
= two
ordering principles
Distribution of capabilities determined by how many great powers in the international system
States seek to reduce others relative power to gain security/survival
Assumptions do not explain States' decision-making.
General systemic pressure to engage in
balancing behavior

external balancing
is most stable; hegemony considered unstable.
Based in evolutionary behavior, States that do not will no survive (Walt)
is secondary, but a means of survival.
: cannot explain States' decision-making; could not explain end of Cold War.
Waltz, Walt, Grieco
While survival in an anarchic international system is the primary goal,
drives (rational) States' behavior;
Survival ensured by having the preponderance of power.
(Mearsheimer takes sets of assumptions from two previous realist theories and gets a new set that keep neorealism’s structural components as well as encompasses complex realism.)
States can never trust one another completely: can never be certain about each other’s intentions
Cooperation and relying on other countries not to backstab you
At best, regional hegemon.
is not the best strategy, but also
bait and bleed
International institutions are developed for convenience to help powerful states extend their interests; when they cease to do so, will collapse (like classical realism).
Geography is significant: insular powers; water and nuclear weapons.
Theoretical development is closer to neorealism but its practice and implications is closer to complex realism
Response to neoliberalism; hybrid of classical realism, neorealism, and neoliberalism
Neoliberal Institutionalism
Hegemonic Stability Theory & Leadership
English School
as opposed to theory with numerous variations at numerous levels, e.g.
critical constructivism
Problematizes sources of state's
(similar to Moravczik's liberalism)
malleable over time and through interactions (March and Olsen);
Actors and structures are
mutually constitutive
agent-structure relationships
: humans act towards
, objects and each other on basis of
of those aspects);
Logic of Consequences
Logic of Appropriateness
Wendt theory seeks to compete with neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism
Success due to explanation of collapse of USSR
: Complex; good for lower levels of analysis
Wendt, Hopf, Finnemore, Barnett, Checkel, Legro,
Foreign Policy and Domestic Politics
Nakissa Jahanbani 12/10/2014
University at Albany, RPOS 570
The Democratic Peace
's actions are determined by their economic class.
The State is the agent of the structure of
international capitalism
and the
The International System is
international economic relationships
among states is the key dimension of international politics.
Revolutionary change inevitable.
Influenced: World-Systems Theory, Dependency Theory, and other IPE theories not related to political aspects of Marxism
A set of observations rather than a theory
Democracies do go to war but require specific circumstances and have difficulty justifying war, therefore, harder for democracies to escalate into armed conflict.
Kant's "Perpetual Peace"
1) Republican constitutions; 2) Development of international laws and norms; 3) Cosmopolitan law.
Tripod must exist for war not to occur.
International System
Monadic (democracies are more peaceful characteristically), dyadic (relations between democracies are peaceful), systemic (groups of democracies are peaceful)
Some prescription: if a State seeks peace, gives normative framework of how to act towards each other and towards their populations (i.e. socialize) in the international system.
: until recently, lacking the methdological backing; other types of peace, such as authoritarian and institutional.
Kant, Oneal and Russett
How is hegemony achieved?
Control of raw materials, sources of monetary capital, large market, competitive advantage in high-quality products, and a significant military (Keohane).
Distribution of capabilities
structures International System
When a hegemon dominates the International System due to its material power, why does it
with other States and
build Institutions
Cooperate to quell contestations to their power;
(e.g. ideational, monetary) best mechanism for hegemons to
maintain power
Negotiate with larger pool of States (similar to Realist explanation of regimes)
Sacrifice short-term goals for long-term.
Hegemonic Stability
: Kindleberger, Keohane, Saull
Hegemonic Leadership
: Ikenberry
States are the unitary actors in an
International System where the
distribution of capabilities
structures the international system.
"Countries want to thrive, not just survive".
States are
- leads to situations of
Harmony, Discord, or Cooperation
Mutuality of Interests
In considering
, States regard:
Shadow of the Future
(Axelrod and Keohane)
: overlap of self-interests across games (Axelrod and Keohane) [and
(Axelrod and Keohane)
becomes a structure for interactions and a mechanism to reconcile barriers of Cooperation.
"the sanctioning problem"
Prisoner's Dilemma
: barrier to cooperation is lack of information;
Reduced via
Tit for Tat
(Axelrod and Keohane)
Response to neorealism - incorporates anarchy and cooperation.
Keohane, Axelrod, Martin, Simmons

International system
of two or more states that have sufficient contact between them and impact how each other behave.
International society
is a limited political organization (i.e. with normative considerations) of States with mutually-agreed
Places meaningful constraints and structures relationships
Societies preserve their interests (e.g. stability, sovereignty, war or absence of, balance of power)
Not supernationalism or regional integration
Weaker societies vs. stronger
Collective defense
collective security
Middle ground between realism and liberalism, but forerunner to constructivism.
Key actors states and international societies.
Anarchy can exist.
Offensive Realism
Generally, many
factors at the domestic level
that shape the preferences and relations of the state; theories that blackbox the state (i.e. classical realism, neoclassical realism) ignore this.
Numerous iterations, including:
Domestic Political Institutions/Government Types (BDM et al)
Bureaucratic Politics
Model (Allison and Halperin)
Benefits of negotiating as a democracy - issue space, win sets, and domestic ratifying partner (Level II) (Putnam)
Audience Costs
Public Opinion
Influential Leaders and Small Groups
Foreign Policy Analysis
Political Psychology
Domestic Interest Groups
Difficulty in operationalizing
Hudson, Allison, BDM, Fearon
World War I
World War II
Cold War
Classical Realism
Defensive Realism
Moravczik's Theory of Liberalism
To create a parsimonious account of liberalism that is stripped of normative baggage that realists criticize
1) Primacy of societal actors (ie individuals and groups that can mobilize in society;
Humans are
risk adverse
(being normative and rational at the same time)
2) Political institutions that govern states act purposefully; preferences
State preferences "bubble up" from the citizens and are aggregated by political institutions
Institutions provide whose interests matter and how those influence the state's preferences.
Theory has causal implications because looks at the sources of interests
Mosaic of regime types
3) Interdependence in international system;
Distribution of both capabilities and preferences
What states value and want shapes the international system
Three main assumptions create ideational, commercial, and republican liberalism
Weaknesses: 3 assumptions but packs a lot in; have to add more constraining variables; hard to generate patterns of behavior when everyone's preferences taken into consideration
Some use in foreign policy analysis
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