Posits that states are motivated by a desire for military and economic power / security Assumes that the following things are true: The international system is anarchic Sovereign states are the dominant actors in the international system States are rational, unitary actors that maximize their own interests The overriding interest of each state is its security/survival States pursue security by amassing resources Relations between states are governed by their relative power
Idealism (Wilsonianism)—a state should make its internal political philosophy the goal of its foreign policy Is an important precursor of liberalism Has been embraced by left- and right-wing perspectives Liberalism: state preferences, rather than state capabilities, are the primary determinant of state behavior
Liberalist theories assume… States are not unitary actors Preferences vary from state to state, depending on culture, economic system, government type, etc. Interactions between states are determined by culture, economic exchange, etc—not just “diplomacy” and “high politics” The international system has an underlying order Cooperation can generate absolute gains
Rejects the focus on states and instead explains global politics based on the economic/material aspects of the international system and how that system is connected to class structures at the local, state, and trans-state levels
Assumes that economics trumps all other concerns—class is the focus of explanation Posits that the international system is an integrated order designed to protect/facilitate capital accumulation Strongly informed dependency theory— Wealthy countries maximize their power by penetrating Southern countries with political advisors, experts, MNCs, etc. Designed to appropriate natural resources and foster dependency of the South on the North
Schools of thought that criticize traditional conceptions of international politics Often share a “constructivist” orientation— assume that ideas/language/ideology shape international politics Feminisms Post-colonialisms Queer IR Post- and anti-modern political theory as applied to IR (Foucault, Heidegger, Nietzsche, etc.)
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