International relations  

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"What is explicitly recognized as international relations theory was not developed until after World War I, and is dealt with in more detail below. Many cite Sun Tzu's The Art of War, Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War ("the weak suffer what they must"), Chanakya's Arthashastra, as the inspiration for realist theory, with Hobbes' Leviathan and Machiavelli's The Prince providing further elaboration." --Sholem Stein

"We all know what is meant by the term 'international community', don't we? It's the west, of course, nothing more, nothing less. Using the term 'international community' is a way of dignifying the west, of globalising it, of making it sound more respectable, more neutral and high-faluting."--Martin Jacques, The Guardian, "What the hell is the international community?", Thu 24 Aug 2006

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International relations (IR) or international affairs (IA) — commonly also referred to as international studies (IS) or global studies (GS) — is the study of interconnectedness of politics, economics and law on a global level. Depending on the academic institution, it is either a field of political science, an interdisciplinary academic field similar to global studies, or an entirely independent academic discipline in which students take a variety of internationally focused courses in social science and humanities disciplines. In all cases, the field studies relationships between political entities (polities) such as sovereign states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), international non-governmental organizations (INGOs), other non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations (MNCs), and the wider world-systems produced by this interaction. International relations is an academic and a public policy field, and so can be positive and normative, because it analyses and formulates the foreign policy of a given state.

As political activity, international relations dates from the time of the Greek historian Thucydides (460–395 BC), and, in the early 20th century, became a discrete academic field (no. 5901 in the 4-digit UNESCO Nomenclature) within political science. In practice, international relations and international affairs forms a separate academic program or field from political science, and the courses taught therein are highly interdisciplinary.

For example, international relations draws from the fields of politics, economics, international law, communication studies, history, demography, geography, sociology, anthropology, criminology, psychology, and gender studies. The scope of international relations encompasses issues such as globalization, diplomatic relations, state sovereignty, international security, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, global finance, terrorism, and human rights.



The history of international relations can be traced back to thousands of years ago; Barry Buzan and Richard Little, for example, consider the interaction of ancient Sumerian city-states, starting in 3,500 BC, as the first fully-fledged international system.

[[File:French Spanish and Polish fashion.jpg|thumb|The official portraits of King Władysław IV dressed according to French, Spanish and Polish fashion reflects the complex politics of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth during the Thirty Years' War]]

The history of international relations based on sovereign states and many more types are often traced back to the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, a stepping stone in the development of the modern state system. Prior to this the European medieval organization of political authority was based on a vaguely hierarchical religious order. Contrary to popular belief, Westphalia still embodied layered systems of sovereignty, especially within the Holy Roman Empire. More than the Peace of Westphalia, the Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 is thought to reflect an emerging norm that sovereigns had no internal equals within a defined territory and no external superiors as the ultimate authority within the territory's sovereign borders.

The centuries of roughly 1500 to 1789 saw the rise of the independent, sovereign states, the institutionalization of diplomacy and armies. The French Revolution added to this the new idea that not princes or an oligarchy, but the citizenry of a state, defined as the nation, should be defined as sovereign. Such a state in which the nation is sovereign would thence be termed a nation-state (as opposed to a monarchy or a religious state). The term republic increasingly became its synonym. An alternative model of the nation-state was developed in reaction to the French republican concept by the Germans and others, who instead of giving the citizenry sovereignty, kept the princes and nobility, but defined nation-statehood in ethnic-linguistic terms, establishing the rarely if ever fulfilled ideal that all people speaking one language should belong to one state only. The same claim to sovereignty was made for both forms of nation-state. (In Europe today, few states conform to either definition of nation-state: many continue to have royal sovereigns, and hardly any are ethnically homogeneous.)

The particular European system supposing the sovereign equality of states was exported to the Americas, Africa, and Asia via colonialism and the "standards of civilization". The contemporary international system was finally established through decolonization during the Cold War. However, this is somewhat over-simplified. While the nation-state system is considered "modern", many states have not incorporated the system and are termed "pre-modern".

Further, a handful of states have moved beyond insistence on full sovereignty, and can be considered "post-modern". The ability of contemporary IR discourse to explain the relations of these different types of states is disputed. "Levels of analysis" is a way of looking at the international system, which includes the individual level, the domestic state as a unit, the international level of transnational and intergovernmental affairs, and the global level.

What is explicitly recognized as international relations theory was not developed until after World War I, and is dealt with in more detail below. IR theory, however, has a long tradition of drawing on the work of other social sciences. The use of capitalizations of the "I" and "R" in international relations aims to distinguish the academic discipline of international relations from the phenomena of international relations. Many cite Sun Tzu's The Art of War (6th century BC), Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War (5th century BC), Chanakya's Arthashastra (4th century BC), as the inspiration for realist theory, with Hobbes' Leviathan and Machiavelli's The Prince providing further elaboration.

Similarly, liberalism draws upon the work of Kant and Rousseau, with the work of the former often being cited as the first elaboration of democratic peace theory. Though contemporary human rights is considerably different from the type of rights envisioned under natural law, Francisco de Vitoria, Hugo Grotius and John Locke offered the first accounts of universal entitlement to certain rights on the basis of common humanity. In the 20th century, in addition to contemporary theories of liberal internationalism, Marxism has been a foundation of international relations.

See also



  • Norman Angell The Great Illusion (London: Heinemann, 1910)
  • Hedley Bull Anarchical Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1977)
  • Robert Cooper The Post-Modern State
  • Enloe, Cynthia. "'Gender' Is Not Enough: The Need for a Feminist Consciousness". International Affairs 80.1 (2004): 95-97. Web. 17 Sept. 2013.
  • Goodin, Robert E., and Hans-Dieter Klingemann, eds. A New Handbook of Political Science (1998) ch 16-19 pp 401–78
  • Charlotte Hooper "Masculinities, IR and the 'Gender Variable': A Cost-Benefit Analysis for (Sympathetic) Gender Sceptics." International Studies 25.3 (1999): 475-491.
  • Andrew Hurrell On Global Order: Power, Values, and the Constitution of International Society (Oxford University Press, 2008).
  • Robert Keohane After Hegemony
  • Hans Köchler, Democracy and the International Rule of Law. Vienna/New York: Springer, 1995
  • Andrew Linklater Men and citizens in the theory of international relations
  • Donald Markwell John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006).
  • Reinhold Niebuhr Moral Man and Immoral Society 1932
  • Joseph Nye Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Public Affairs Ltd 2004
  • Paul Raskin The Great Transition Today: A Report from the Future
  • J. Ann Tickner Gender in International Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992).
  • Kenneth Waltz Man, the State, and War
  • Kenneth Waltz Theory of International Politics (1979), examines the foundation of By Bar
  • Michael Walzer Just and Unjust Wars 1977
  • Alexander Wendt Social Theory of International Politics 1999
  • J. Martin Rochester Fundamental Principles of International Relations (Westview Press, 2010)
  • An Introduction to International Relations Theory
  • James C. Hsiang Anarchy & Order: The Interplay of Politics and Law in International Relations 1555875718, 9781555875718 Lynne Rienner Pub 1997

History of international relations

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