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Presentation on theme: "IR2501 THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Lecture 4 NEO-REALISM (Structural Realism)"— Presentation transcript:


2 Key Text: Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979)

3 Nature of Theory Abstraction Fact versus Theory Theory: an intellectual construction by which we select facts and interpret them. (Example: Concept of the economy in Economics)

4 Waltz and International Theory Theory obviously cannot explain the accidental or account for unexpected events. Theories deal with regularities and repetitions that are possible only if these can be identified.

5 Waltz and International Theory A theory is a depiction of the organisation of a domain and of the connections among its parts. A theory indicates that some factors are more important than others and specifies relations among them.

6 Waltz and International Theory In reality, everything is related to everything else, and one domain cannot be separated from others. Theory isolates one realm from all others in order to deal with it intellectually. To isolate a realm is a precondition to developing a theory that will explain what goes on within it.

7 Waltz and International Theory Complexity does not work against theory. Rather, theory is a means of dealing with complexity. For example, given the concept of the marketa bounded economic domaineconomists have been able to develop further concepts and draw connections among them. An assumption or a set of assumptions is necessary.

8 Waltz and International Theory The assumptions on which theories are built are radical simplifications of the world and are useful because they are such.

9 KEY POINTS To define a structure requires ignoring how units relate with one another (how they interact) and concentrating on how they stand in relation to one another (how they are arranged or positioned. Interactions...take place at the level of units. How units stand in relation to one not the property of the units. The arrangement of units is a property of the system.

10 Three Propositions First, structures may endure while personality, behaviour, and interactions vary widely. Structure is sharply distinguished from actions and interactions. Second, a structural definition applies to realms of widely different substance as long as the arrangement of parts is similar. Third, because this is so, theories developed for one realm may with some modification be applicable to other realms as well.

11 Structural Realism International Politics is essentially a struggle for power not because of human nature but due to anarchy Anarchy is not chaos, but the absence of a political authority Three elements of the international system (Waltz): (1) organizing principle (2) differentiation of units & (3) distribution of capabilities Two different organizing principles : anarchy and hierarchy

12 Structural Realism Anarchy reflects to the decentralised nature of international politics Hierarchy is the basis of the domestic order Units of the international system are functionally similar sovereign states Distribution of capabilities across units is key to understanding international politics

13 Structural Realism Distribution of power in the international system is the key independent variable to explain war and peace, alliance politics, and the balance of power Rank-ordering of states allows to differentiate the Great Powers that exist at any particular moment Number of Great Powers determines the structure of the international system (Unipolar, Bipolar, Multipolar)

14 Structural Realism Self-help is main principle of state behaviour (Remember: the assumption of anarchy) The ultimate objective of states is not power, but security Power maximizing versus security maximizing (Power maximization is dysfunctional because it provokes a counterbalancing coalition of states


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