Theory of IR
THE NATURE OF THE FIELD
Objective: To understand what we mean by the term “field”
o What is the field of International Relations
o Why should you care?
o How do we view the field?
The role of Theory
Why do we need them?
What do they contribute?
What do they cost?
Who gets to build it?
o IR Theory
o IR Security
o Political Economy
o International Organization
THE THEORIES OF IR: OR HOW TO PICK A LENS TO “SEE”
o Historically most people have used. Also most attacked.
o The counter to realism. Doesn’t say realism is totally
bankrupt, realism has some stuff right but some
elements wrong. Modified within international system.
o Liberals and realists have it wrong.
o New entry.
o Environment. Idea of making some form of variable that
relate to the environment/the ecology is something that
is even more recent than feminism literature. Many in
the field saying there is room for environmental studies
but not in IR.
Role of National Power
Dark side of Human Nature Hard Power
o Military power supported by economic power supported
in the system
o Can have stability in anarchic system balance of
o Means we can go back to history (Spartan) conflict and
draw knowledge. Essence of what they were doing, type
of diplomacy, is the same then as it is now.
o Modern day starts with Hans Morganthau
o Born in Germany and was a German Jew.
o Committed to understanding how states act and how do
you deal with certain circumstances (example
o States are the critical units
o International system is in a state of anarchy. Nothing
exists that will let us set up a system.
o System being dominated by conflict
o Attack the idea that there should be morality in the
Western states in particular have this problem.
o Hans uses his writings.
o Military Officer, government official, POW
Policy making perspective
o A lot of policy makers will think along the lines of
State plus other actors/units
o Core ontology is the state but there is more including
Conflict and Cooperation
Human Nature can Learn
o Ideas can transform the international system.
o Hard power military power.
o Soft power power of ideas.
o Examining what happened at the end of the Cold War
o Soft power. Woodward Wilson
o Both a theory and also an action plan (failed as an
action plan? Marxism becomes associated with the
major enemies of the West. Needs to be stamped out?
Argument to support that)
o As a theoretical lens does it give us an understanding
realism and liberalism do not?
Focus on Economic Interaction
Political Power of Economics
Ruling Elites use State for their own interests
o Need to understand the political interests of your
political elites then you will understand the state.
Human Nature if dark, but can be forced to be improved
o Mankind = greedy.
Unequal relations between States
o German writing in Britain
o Writing in a period of extreme imperialism. Rising
o Asks – What really drives the citizen? Why interested in
ruling others + colonization?
o State is not core ontological unit. Creation of ruling
elites. To understand econ