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Themes !!!!!!!!!!May 9 2011
-Democracy ➞ Right of the community to protect over individual rights, or individual rights above all?
-Look at geopolitics (the area, the structure of the system, does libya have nukes?), the elites, the ruling
party, the history of the country.
-Shift of power to the East, particularly India and China.
-Continuity and change ➞ how much have things really changed? How will this shape the world in the
next few years (how do political and economical themes coalesce to create certain outcomes?)
-Conﬂict and cooperation ➞ do countries act friendly or hostile toward another on a certain issue?
- Explain political outcomes in international peacekeeping and the international political economy
Deﬁnition of international relations
-IR: interest in political patterns encompassing the world, not just between states but between
multinational corporations (MNCs), NGO’s, IGO’s, etc.
-The process of increasing interconnectedness between societies such that events in one part of the world
are having increasing e!ects on peoples and societies far away ➞ sounds a lot like globalization
-Globalization has caused traditional states to lose authority to supranational institutions like the
IMF and EU. Liberal democratic values are becoming the global values.
-Some people dispute this, saying today’s economies are not more integrated than before WWI
and that we’re not heading into a single world free trade zone but becoming more divided.
The collective goods problem
How to override individual self-interests to obtain a shared goal, or how to provide something that
beneﬁts everyone regardless of what each member contributes to it.
-Hard because each nation is sovereign w/it’s own free will, no world gov’t to force things.
3 possible solutions: force your will upon others, rewards & punishment, or self-sacriﬁce to beneﬁt group
1) Dominance: create a hierarchy, gain power through actual or implied use of violence (fear). Provides
order, stability, and predictability, but can cause oppression and resentment (and war if a ﬁght for the
top emerges). Overall not e!ective way to rule, too many resources are being used.
2) Reciprocity: set the agenda. Reward good behaviour punish those who pursue self-interest at the
expense of the group. Does not need central authority, but ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’
also means ‘eye for an eye.’ Can lead to downward spiral as countries punish each other ➞ war.
-i.e. IMF is controlled by the states that contribute the most money. These states can
enforce their own ideas and systems onto countries who need their loans ➞ to get this $
$, you must give certain freedoms, have `elections, etc. More e!ective over ﬁrst way
3) Identity: instill certain ideas into the young/preventing the young from educating themselves about
certain issues. People in an identity community care about the interests of others in the group enough
to sacriﬁce their own interests to beneﬁt others (because the beneﬁts are ‘all in the family’).
Actors and inﬂuences in IR
States: gov’t who presides over pop’n in a territorial boundary. Has sovereignty, monopoly over force,
doesn’t answer to others. If pop’n shares a group identity, it may consider itself a nation.
International system: the relationships among the world’s states, structured by explicit and implicit rules.
Looks at rights and roles that states have, who is considered a state, how to treat each other.
Intergovernmental organizations (IGOs): groups consisting of a few or more states. I.e. OPEC, WTO, NATO.
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs): private organizations usually w/political or humanitarian purpose.
June 2011 Jessica Giang
Multinational corporations (MNCs): companies that span multiple countries. Depends on the state to
provide protection, welll-regulated markets, stable political environment, etc. I.e. Walmart.
What is theory?
-Max Weber: “All knowledge of cultural reality is always knowledge from particular points of view.”
-Why do we do the things we do? Why is society organized a certain way (drive on the left/right)?
Why do we have more hybrids while Europeans have more diesel? What interests are pushing this
particular behaviour? Look at power & biases.
-Diamonds are not scarce, but are monopolized. Company creates image ➞ associate diamonds
with celebrities, royalty, needed for marriage.
-Our ideas are shaped by a particular doctrine, image of the world, ideology, paradigm, or prospective
- Theory - a simplifying device that allows you to decide which facts matter and which do not
-People wear di!erent sunglasses to view the same world with (their biases, what they’re
narrowing down in terms of their focus). People with green glasses see the world di!erently
than people with blue or yellow or red glasses.
- Empirical theory — subject to test against real-world data or facts, prediction for observed phenomena.
-Clear division between ‘facts’ and ‘values.’ Looks at what is. CHALLENGE ideas
-Normative theories — deals with values and value preferences ➞ philosophy
-Not subject to empirical test as a means of establishing their truth or falsehood
-I.e. Do we always go to war because humans are inherently evil? You cannot give empirical
evidence for this, it depends on your values and preferences ➞ what do you believe?
-Emphasize what ought to be and not just what is ➞ i.e. In Thailand, boys go to school more than
girls. But I think this is wrong, we need to look at why more boys are being educated than girls.
-Focus on not accepting the situation as it is, focus on ways to change it.
-Theory is always for someone & some purpose. All theories have a perspective (attitude, certain
outlook). I.e. What’s the states interest in doing something?
Theory can serve 2 distinct purposes:
1) To help solve problems within the terms of a particular perspective/outlook (immediate action to the
situation that you’re in)
2) To reﬂect upon the process of theorizing itself (how come this situation is happening, why did we
respond in this way and not another way):
a) aware of the perspective behind theorizing ➞ think about the ideas behind the actions
b) relationship of a perspective to other perspectives ➞ realism to liberalism
c) become aware of how di!erent perspectives create di!erent worlds ➞ e.g. Realism vs idealism
Problem solving theory: takes the world as it ﬁnds it, deals with particular sources of trouble (i.e. With the
nuclear crisis in Japan, you deal with cooling down the reactors instead of thinking about how to rely less
on nuclear energy). Thinks about planned actions to sustain the existing order, to keep things as they are.
Strength: ability to ﬁx parameters, limit variables.
Critical theory: looks at the prevailing order of the world and asks how that order came about. Calls social
institutions into question, possibility of change. Thinks about strategies and actions to bring about an
alternate order, to change (i.e. What alternatives are there to nuclear energy?)
Levels of analysis
Possible explanations of international events or “Why” questions. Levels of analysis may include:
1) The (interstate/systemic) international system — looks at distribution of power among states, their
power relative to another state (military — how do countries with small armies win against large armies;
June 2011 Jessica Giang
economic; cultural - Japan & Germany in WWII were decimated, but by the 1970s were powerful again),
geography, technology, and other factors.
2) The (domestic) state and society — is the state democratic? Authoritarian? Economic, military actors.
Looks at interest groups involved in politics (lobbyists). How do these groups a!ect their state’s actions?
3) The choices, perceptions, and actions of individuals — Obama and Harper. They are drivers of
international policy, but they’re just one part.
For example, why does war occur?
1) Is it because of the nature of individuals (are humans innately aggressive)?
2) Is it because of the nature of states & societies (are some types of states more aggressive than others)?
3) Is it because of the nature of the international system of states (balance of power, instability means
more likely chance of war, fear peoples whose powers are declining rather than those whose are rising)?
Globalization - What’s so special about the current period?!! ! ! May 11 2011
Should not fully believe enlightenment idea that history is progressive. Not all things get better over time.
Why we’re ‘special’:
-Economic connectedness between distant countries — when we call for services, we may end up talking
to IT techs in India. Outsource jobs overseas, could be cheaper, save time for person who outsources,
more e"cient. Products come from all over the world to a greater degree than in the past.
-Our notions of distance have changed, especially when communicating/receiving information & traveling.
-World shares a common culture, the di!erences between people are diminishing
-However, with an example like Mcdonalds and the issue of McDonaldization, one could argue
that although McDonalds is all over the world now, each country puts their own cultural
inﬂuences into McDonalds. Also, is it such a bad thing? In Russia, McDonalds workers were
trained to serve with a smile. In other places, McDonalds meant a clean washroom (in a time of
incredibly dirty public washrooms). In China, people had to wait civilly in line.
-Transfer of alliance from the state to sub-state, transnational, and international bodies.
-Cosmopolitan culture ➞ people “think globally and act locally.” Idea that we all belong to common
community. See global things like pollution, and act locally to decrease pollution.
-Rise of global elite, who can ﬁnd jobs anywhere in the world due to high demand for their skills ➞ of
these elites, who is their allegiance with? Does their allegiance go beyond state borders?
Why we’re not special (globalization trends from the past):
-We lack historical depth
-Regarding economic integration, we’re less open now than from before WWI (protectionism).
-Genuine MNC’s are rare in the sense that most corporations are still associated with a gov’t ➞
they depend on gov’t for protection, regulation (whatever country the company is based in)
-World economy is not global but concentrated among 3 regional blocs
-There are losers as the world becomes more connected. Some professions go out of demand, and these
people’s skills are mismatched for the emerging professions ➞ Markets o!er opportunities only for some
people, and restrict others.
-Who are transnational social movements responsible (democratically accountable) to?
-Not all changes in world politics are positive. I.e. Drug cartels, terrorist organizations, genocides.
-Technology has never been and cannot be contained. India and China’s productivity and innovative
methods will spread over to other countries and all will beneﬁt (not true in development though, some
post-colonial African countries have lower GDP per capita now than in pre-colonial times).
Note: Low wages are not a race to the bottom. MNC’s are concerned about image so they will not just
subcontract out to companies with the lowest wages (scared of being discovered).
June 2011 Jessica Giang