INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS – LECTURE 1
In order to better understand conflict and tensions in international relations, we have to
understand motives and constraints of different actors in (international) politics. Our value
judgements must be implicit.
Interested in not only states, but many actors (e.g. non-governmental organizations, multi-
national corporations, militaries, etc.). Understanding rules, norms, markets, etc. They identify
patterns and trends, and understand the consequences and meanings of developments (e.g. ban
on nuclear chemicals).
Only a subset of international scholars attempt to predict. They attempt to predict future
trends (e.g. clash of civilizations, the end of history and intellectual endpoint, etc.).
We judge policies and decisions on both moral and credential grounds.
We function as advocates for change (policies, revolution, specific measures, and most
The lenses through which we see the world determine our perspectives, what we advocate for,
and what we ignore.
Who’s perspectives and voices have dominated the views and approaches of international
politices? European. How can we change this?
o TRADITIONAL: Some authors draw heavily from history and examine individual wars in
detail to develop theories and patterns. They go from particular to general. This
approach was more popular in the post-war years. History is necessary to adequate
o SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC: Dominant after the war and challenged in the 1990’s. Their goal is
to develop theories and apply them to current events. They are interested in general
causes (of conflict, peace, resolution, etc.) and trends. It is the dominant approach in
o INTERPRETIVE: The goal of these kinds of scholars is to understand world politics. They
try to read international politics as a text – by ideas and discourses. Attempting to
understand and interpret how other people and cultures understand phenomenon (e.g.
o Actors include the EU, non-governmental organizations that work for human rights,
Presidents, international and multi-national corporations, terrorist groups and
organizations, resistance movements, UN, NATO, etc.
o What about diplomats, burocrats, and the army? No. They execute decisions but don’t
make them – the decisions are made by actors above them. However, if they DO make
decisions regarding international politics, they can be considered actors.
o Realists aren't interested in any actors except states.
o Liberals are interested in a range of actors.
o Political psychologists are interested in individuals and their decision making processes. The State
o The authority of states is being far more decentralized – both down to smaller regional
levels, as well as internationally (NATO). The role of the state is fundamentally
o All states have these 4 characteristics.
Monopoly on the Legitimate Use of Force – this refers to the state as the rightful