14 Theories of International Relations

There are several theories of international relations that have been developed over time, each offering a unique perspective on the way that states and other actors interact on the global stage. Some of the key theories of international relations include:
  1. Realism: Realism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of power, security, and self-interest in shaping the behavior of states (Waltz, 1979). Realists argue that states are motivated by their own self-preservation and security, and that they will take whatever steps are necessary to protect their own interests (Waltz, 1979). Realists also believe that international relations are characterized by anarchy, or the absence of a central authority that can enforce rules and regulations on states (Waltz, 1979).
  2. Liberalism: Liberalism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of international institutions, democracy, and cooperation in shaping the behavior of states (Keohane, 1984). Liberals argue that states are motivated by a desire for mutual benefit and cooperation, and that international institutions can facilitate this cooperation by setting rules and norms for international behavior (Keohane, 1984). Liberalism also emphasizes the role of international trade and economic interdependence in promoting peace and stability (Keohane, 1984).
  3. Constructivism: Constructivism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of ideas, norms, and identity in shaping the behavior of states (Wendt, 1992). Constructivists argue that states are not motivated solely by material interests, but rather by the ideas and values that shape their identities and worldviews (Wendt, 1992). Constructivists also believe that international relations are shaped by the norms and practices that are constructed by states and other actors (Wendt, 1992).
  4. Marxism: Marxism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of class conflict and economic structures in shaping the behavior of states (Smith, 1998). Marxists argue that states are motivated by the interests of the ruling class, and that international relations are shaped by the struggle between different classes (Smith, 1998). Marxists also believe that imperialism and colonialism are key drivers of international relations, and that the global system is characterized by exploitation and oppression (Smith, 1998).
  5. Functionalism: Functionalism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of international organizations and cooperation in promoting stability and cooperation among states (Haas, 1958). Functionalists argue that international organizations can facilitate cooperation by providing a forum for states to negotiate and resolve conflicts, and by setting rules and norms for international behavior (Haas, 1958).
  6. Constructivist institutionalism: Constructivist institutionalism is a theory of international relations that combines elements of constructivism and institutionalism (Finnemore, 1996). Constructivist institutionalists argue that international institutions shape the behavior of states by providing a forum for states to interact and by constructing shared norms and practices (Finnemore, 1996).
  7. Neoliberal institutionalism: Neoliberal institutionalism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of international institutions in promoting cooperation and stability among states (Keohane, 1984). Neoliberal institutionalists argue that international institutions can facilitate cooperation by providing a forum for states to negotiate and resolve conflicts, and by setting rules and norms for international behavior (Keohane, 1984).
  8. Rational choice institutionalism: Rational choice institutionalism is a theory of international relations that combines elements of rational choice theory and institutionalism (Powell, 1991). Rational choice institutionalists argue that states are motivated by a desire to maximize their own interests, and that international institutions shape the behavior of states by providing a forum for states to interact and by constructing shared norms and practices (Powell, 1991).
  9. English School: The English School is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of international society in shaping the behavior of states (Bull, 1977). English School theorists argue that states are bound together by shared norms and practices, and that international society plays a crucial role in promoting cooperation and stability among states (Bull, 1977).
  10. Social constructivism: Social constructivism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of social interactions and communication in shaping the behavior of states (Checkel, 2005). Social constructivists argue that states are shaped by their interactions with each other, and that these interactions are mediated by shared ideas, norms, and practices (Checkel, 2005).
  11. Postcolonialism: Postcolonialism is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of colonialism and imperialism in shaping the global system (Said, 1978). Postcolonialists argue that the global system is characterized by a legacy of colonialism and imperialism, and that this legacy has had a lasting impact on the relationships and power dynamics among states (Said, 1978).
  12. Gender and feminist theory: Gender and feminist theory are approaches to international relations that emphasize the role of gender and patriarchy in shaping the behavior of states (Tickner, 1992). Gender and feminist theorists argue that the global system is characterized by gender inequality and patriarchy, and that these dynamics have had a significant impact on the relationships and power dynamics among states (Tickner, 1992).
  13. Human security: Human security is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the importance of protecting the individual from various threats, including poverty, disease, and violence (United Nations Development Programme, 1994). Human security theorists argue that states have a responsibility to protect the human rights and well-being of their citizens, and that this requires a shift in focus from state security to human security (United Nations Development Programme, 1994).
  14. Global governance: Global governance is a theory of international relations that emphasizes the role of non-state actors, such as international organizations and civil society, in shaping the behavior of states (Rosenau, 1995). Global governance theorists argue that non-state actors play a crucial role in shaping global governance and in addressing global challenges, such as climate change and economic inequality (Rosenau, 1995)

    References:
    1. Keohane, R. O. (1984). After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Political Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
    2. Smith, S. (1998). International Relations Theory: An Introduction. New York: St. Martin's Press.
    3. Waltz, K. N. (1979). Theory of International Politics. New York: McGraw-Hill.
    4. Wendt, A. (1992). "Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics." International Organization, 46(2), 391-425.
    5. Bull, H. (1977). The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics. New York: Columbia University Press.
    6. Checkel, J. T. (2005). "International Institutions and Socialization in Europe: Introduction and Framework." International Organization, 59(4), 801-826.
    7. Finnemore, M. (1996). National Interests in International Society. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    8. Haas, E. B. (1958). The Uniting of Europe: Political, Social, and Economic Forces, 1950-1957. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    9. Powell, R. (1991). "Absolute and Relative Gains in International Relations Theory." American Political Science Review, 85(4), 1303-1320.
    10. Rosenau, J. N. (1995). "Governance in the Twenty-First Century." Global Governance, 1(1), 13-43.
    11. Said, E. W. (1978). Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books.
    12. Tickner, J. A. (1992). Gender in International Relations: Feminist Perspectives on Achieving Global Security. New York: Columbia University Press.
    13. United Nations Development Programme. (1994). Human Development Report 1994. New York: Oxford University Press.

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