POL 208 Realism textbook notes.docx

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Ryerson University
Politics and Public Administration
POL 208
Abbas Gnamo

Realism Textbook Key points Pg. 89 Realism has been the dominant theory of world politics sice the beginning of academic international relations. Outside the academy, realism has much longer history in the work of classical political theorists such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Rousseau. The unifying theme around which all realist thinking converges is that states find themselves in the shadow of anarchy such that their security cannot be taken for granted At the start of the new millennium, realism continues to attract academicians and inform policy-makers, although in the period since the end of the cold we have seen heightened criticism of realist assumptions. Pg. 93 There is a lack of consensus in the literature as to whether we can meaningfully speak about realism as a single coherent theory There are good reasons for delineating different types of realism Structural realism divides into 2 camps: those who argue that states are security maximizers (defensive realism), and those who argue that states are power maximizers (offensive realism) Neoclassical realist bring individual and unit variation back into theory Pg. 96 Statism: is the centrepiece of realism. This involves 2 claims. First, for the theorist, the state is the pre- eminent actor and all other actors in world politics are of lesser significance. Second, state ‘sovereignty’ signifies the existence of an independent political community, one that has juridical authority over its territory Key criticism: statism is flawed on both empirical (challenges to state power from ‘above and ‘below’) and normative grounds (the inability of sovereign stats to respond to collective global problems such as famine, environmental degradation, and human rights abuses) Survival: the primary objective of all states is survival; this is the supreme national interest to which all political leaders must adhere Key Criticism: are there no limits to what action a state can take in the name of necessity? Hegemonies-The predominant influence, as of a state, region, or group, over another or others Lecture Notes Realism and Globalization  For Realists, states hold sovereignty, and globalization does not cause obsolete the struggle for political power between states.  Globalization does not weaken the importance of the threat of the use of force Realism- To see the world
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