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Article

Felix Berenskoetter

The identity perspective first emerged in the international relations (IR) literature in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of two overlapping trends. First, the postmodern Zeitgeist encouraged the questioning of accepted and “naturalized” categories associated with modernity. Embracing diversity and committed to an agenda of emancipation, postmodern thinking was to bring about the “death of meta-narratives” and to unravel assumptions which had come to be taken for granted and justified with, for instance, the need for parsimony. In IR, this meant “fracturing and destabilizing the rationalist/positivist hegemony,” including its ontology of the international system, to establish a new perspective on world politics. The readiness to do so was aided, second, by the end of the Cold War and changing structures of governance. The dissolution of seemingly stable political entities such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia raised questions about the volatility of borders, loyalties, nationalism(s), and the ability to manipulate them. Simultaneously, the phenomenon of “globalization” and processes of European integration undermined the conception of the Westphalian state as the fixed/dominant entity in world politics. Against this backdrop, many IR scholars searching for new conceptual vocabulary turned to “identity” to highlight the socially constructed nature of the state and its interests, and to explain the causes of war and the conditions for peace.

Article

The teaching of international organization (IO) poses unique challenges. One is deciding whether to take a broad global governance-IO approach dealing with the creation, revision, and enforcement of rules that mark different governance arrangements, the roles of formal, informal, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental IOs, and the politics, dynamics, and processes of problem-solving and governance in various issue areas, a theory-driven approach, or an IOs approach focusing primarily on select formal intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and possibly nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), emphasizing structures, charters, mandates, and functions. Either choice could lead one to utilize recent literature on IGOs (and to a lesser extent NGOs) as organizations and bureaucracies, examining their design, functions, and performance or behavior. Another is the extent to which various international relations as well as IO-related theories such as theories of cooperation, regime and institution formation and evolution, functionalism, constructivism, and others are integrated into an IO course. To what extent are students introduced to currents of critical theory such as postmodernism, Marxism, feminism, and postcolonialism in relationship to IOs? There is also the question of which IGOs—global and/or regional—to include given the range of possibilities. How all the abovementioned issues are addressed will strongly influence choices with regard to textbooks, other readings, and various types of electronically available materials.

Article

A significant development in the history of international relations (IR) is the increased focus on historiographical issues. Prior to 1998, the literature had, for the most part, failed to address adequately the question of how to write a history of the field. The tendency was to describe the history of IR as if a complete consensus existed on the essential dimensions of the field’s evolution. However, during the past 10 years (1998–2008) a wealth of new literature has appeared that greatly challenges much of the conventional wisdom regarding the development of IR. Three main thematic issues have been prominent in the literature. The first theme concerns the status of IR as an academic field or discipline. For various reasons, there has been a repeated questioning of whether IR is in fact a distinctive discipline. A second theme is the issue of whether the boundaries of IR should be demarcated in terms of one particular country (the United States) or whether it should be viewed as a more cosmopolitan endeavor without regard to national differences. The third theme involves the historiographical debate about whether the evolution of the field is best explained in terms of exogenous events in the realm of international politics or by endogenous factors associated with the institutional setting of the field.

Article

International relations (IR) is widely accepted as an academic discipline in its own right, despite the many subdisciplines which hold it together. These disparate subdisciplines, in fact, have come to define international relations as a whole. Establishing systematic matrices that describe and explain the discipline as a whole can show how the subdisciplines that constitute international relations have sufficient coherence to allow us to say that there is a discipline there. To look at the discipline otherwise would be viewing it as a mere collection of insights taken from other disciplines—in short, international relations could not be defined as a discipline at all. Such an argument forms a more heterodox view of international relations—one which does not attempt to engage with traditional debates about what constitutes the subject’s core as compared with its periphery. The “old” international relations was largely confined to politico-strategic issues to do with military strategy and diplomacy; that is, to discussions of peace and war, international organization, international governance, and international law. It was about states and the state system and little more. By contrast the “new” international relations is an all-inclusive account of how the world works. The underlying coherence of this account makes it possible to provide more comprehensive and more nuanced explanations of international relations.

Article

Anna M. Agathangelou and Heather M. Turcotte

Feminist international relations (IR) theories have long provided interventions and insights into the embedded asymmetrical gender relations of global politics, particularly in areas such as security, state-nationalism, rights–citizenship, and global political economies. Yet despite the histories of struggle to increase attention to gender analysis, and women in particular, within world politics, IR knowledge and practice continues to segregate gendered and feminist analyses as if they are outside its own formation. IR as a field, discipline, and site of contestation of power has been one of the last fields to open up to gender and feminist analyses. One reason for this is the link between social science and international institutions like the United Nations, and its dominant role in the formation of foreign policy. Raising the inferior status of feminism within IR, that is, making possible the mainstreaming of gender and feminism, will require multiple centers of power and multiple marginalities. However, these institutional struggles for recognition through exclusion may themselves perpetuate similar exploitative relationships of drawing boundaries around legitimate academic and other institutional orders. In engaging, listening and writing these struggles, it is important to recognize that feminisms, feminist IR, and IR are intimately linked through disciplinary struggles and larger geopolitical struggles of world affairs and thus necessitate knowledge terrains attentive to intersectional and oppositional gendered struggles (i.e., race, sexuality, nation, class, religion, and gender itself).

Article

Roger A. Coate, Jeffrey A. Griffin, and Steven Elliott-Gower

Interdependence is a key structural feature of the international system. While ambiguity exists over the concept and its usage, interdependence is central for explaining the nature and dynamics of international organization (IO), as well as international relations more broadly conceived. Interdependence involves interconnection/linkages among actors and systems of interrelationships of actors. Yet, interdependence means more than simple interconnectedness. It entails a relationship in which two or more parties are linked in a system of action in such a way that changes in one party impact in some meaningful way on the attainment of needs, values, and/or desired outcomes of the others. In other words, the satisfaction of each party’s needs and values is contingent to some degree on the behavior of others. The concept of interdependence is used in several areas. In general international systems, a system functions as a whole because of the interdependence of its parts. Interdependence also plays a significant role in Immanuel Wallenstein’s world-systems theory, as well as the closely related concept of dependency. Another important analytical thread in interdependence theorizing has been international integration, where the creation of cooperative transnational linkages for dealing with technical issues could result in a learning process that changed attitudes about cooperation. Finally, with interdependence as a core element, more systematic frameworks for analyzing and explaining the nature and role of transnational relations in world politics can be made.

Article

The evolution of international organizations (IOs) can be divided into three phrases. The first phase started with the Congress of Vienna (1814–15), which set in motion a series of innovations, inventions, and learning processes, shaping the core of what we now call IOs. The second phase of international organization in the nineteenth century is characterized by the building of permanent institutions. This is reflected in the new and dominant term “union” for organization. The term “public international union” (PIU) became the overarching term for the by intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. PIUs have been regarded as “early IGOs” which later transformed into specialized agencies of the UN system, with their subdivisions as institutional prototypes for the League of Nations and the UN. The third phase of international organization is the continued existence of IOs during the first half of the twentieth century. The outbreak of World War I can be regarded as an exogenous shock to the evolutionary development of IOs. During the war, the concept of international organization was not lost and was even central to the thinking on international politics in the UK and the US. Detailed plans for an international peace organization, using the term “international government”, were produced and discussed by politicians and citizens. These plans, which became part of the institutional strategy devised by the US, strongly reflected the organizational experiences of the PIUs.

Article

Catherine Goetze and Dejan Guzina

Since the early 1990s, the number of statebuilding projects has multiplied, often ending several years or even decades of violent conflict. The objectives of these missions have been formulated ad hoc, driven by the geopolitical contexts in which the mandates of statebuilding missions were established. However, after initial success in establishing a sense of physical security, the empirical evidence shows that most statebuilding efforts have failed, or achieved only moderate success. In some countries, violence has resumed after the initial end of hostilities. In others, the best results were authoritarian regimes based on fragile stalemates between warring parties. A review of the literature on statebuilding indicates a vast number of theories and approaches that often collide with each other, claim the exact opposite, and mount (contradictory) evidence in support of their mutually exclusive claims. Still they are united by their inquiry into the general structural and policy-making conditions that nurture or impede statebuilding processes. A problematic characteristic of the statebuilding literature is a lack of dialogue across the various disciplines. Many of the claims in the international relations literature on external statebuilding are a mirror image of the previous ones made on democratization. Another problem is the propensity to repeat the same mistakes of the previous generations.

Article

The origin of the statistical analysis of international relations can be traced back to 1920s with the work of Quincy Wright, who founded the University of Chicago’s Committee on International Relations. He led an interdisciplinary study of war that provided a first compendium of what was then known about the causes of war. Wright's studies and those that came after them were based on the assumption that systematic data were required to advance our knowledge about the causes of violent conflicts, and that an analysis of the dynamics of strategic decision making were essential; in short, systematic data coupled with a theoretical framework that focused on the decision-making calculus. However, debates soon raged over whether this scientific approach was better than the classical approach, which was based on philosophy, history, and law, and did not conform to strict standards of verification and proof. Since then, the literature has evolved into studies with a strong theoretical motivation, often expressed via game theoretical analytics, examined empirically with statistical frameworks that are specifically sculpted to probe those strategic dependencies. As such, existing models have resolved the levels of analysis problem that appeared daunting to earlier generations by actually focusing on the modeling of aspects of world politics that enjoin many different levels simultaneously.

Article

The engagement between the discipline of international relations (IR) and feminist theory has led to an explosion of concerns about the inherent gendered dimension of a supposedly gender-blind field, and has given rise to a rich and complex array of analyses that attempt to capture the varied aspects of women’s invisibility, marginalization, and objectification within the discipline. The first feminist engagements within IR have pointed not only to the manner in which women are rendered invisible within the field, but also to IR’s inherent masculinity, which masks itself as a neutral and universally valid mode of investigation of world politics. Thus, the initial feminist incursions into IR’s discourse took the form of a conscious attempt both to bridge the gap between IR and feminist theory and to bring gender into IR, or, in other words, to make the field aware that “women are relevant to policy.” In the 1990s, feminist literature undertook incisive analyses of women’s objectification and commodification within the global economy. By the end of the 1990s and into the first decade of the 21st century, the focus turned to an accounting for the agency of diverse women as they are located within complex sociopolitical contexts. The core concern of this inquiry lay with the diversification of feminist methodologies, especially as it related to the experience of women in non-Western societies.

Article

Finance  

Tony Porter

The literature on the global organization of finance has grown along with the global financial system, but also in response to theoretical innovations that suggested new lines of inquiry. In the 1970s and early 1980s, the emerging field of international political economy began to make valuable contributions to our understanding of global finance, but these focused on monetary politics or the formal intergovernmental organizations such as the IMF. By the 1990s, the literature focused on the greater complexity evident in global finance as traditional bank lending was increasingly displaced by other types of financial instruments, such as bonds, equities, and derivatives, which were also spreading geographically to influence “emerging markets” in the developing world and in countries in transition from communism. Since the mid-1990s, three interconnected changes in theory and practice are evident in international political economy (IPE) literature on the global organization of finance. First, the theoretical changes that characterized the broader fields of international relations and IPE were evident in the study of the global organization of finance as well, including the emergence of a new divide separating rational choice approaches from constructivism and other approaches. Second, the growing prominence of the concepts of globalization and global governance in the study and practice of international affairs inspired new literatures that overlapped and interacted with the IPE literature. Third, criticisms of globalized financial markets and questions of accountability and democracy directed at these markets grew and their role in structural adjustment.

Article

The study of international organizations (IOs) has been described as lacking theoretical depth. However, the field actually has a more solid theoretical foundation than some of its critics allege. Moreover, the variety of approaches has entailed multifaceted knowledge of the internal workings as well as the global effects of IOs. Three theoretical traditions have emerged, dealing with institutions, organization, and governance. Institutional analysis has a central position in political science. In the study of domestic institutions, three major schools—rational choice institutionalism, historical institutionalism, and sociological institutionalism—have emerged. Organization theory represents a change of focus from the ideational structures studied by institutionalists to more material and human structures. Whereas both institutional and organizational approaches were originally formulated for domestic structures, institutionalists have been more receptive to exploring domestic-international analogies and contrasts. Even if both institutional and organization theories pay attention to process— institutionalizing rules and practices as well as organizing collective entities are long-term processes— IO studies inspired by these approaches tend to focus on relatively stable structures, asking questions concerning the establishment, persistence or change, and impact of international institutions and organizations. A third, more recent perspective focuses on continuous processes of governance, involving international organizations as well as other types of actors.

Article

A gender disparity in publishing hinders the ability of women to advance their careers in academia. A review of the literature shows that there is little published research on the status of women in international studies. Women’s access to, and progress in, the field of international studies has also been slower than many have thought. Feminist approaches to international relations emerged later compared to other subfields of political science, at around the end of the Cold War. Data suggests that there has not been substantial growth in the proportion of women in international studies since the mid-1990s: the data of Tétreault et al. (1997) reported 31.2 percent women for 1994 and Breuning et al. (2005) calculated that there were 31.8 percent women in the International Studies Association in 2004. With each successive rank on the academic career ladder, the percentage of women becomes smaller. In 2006, women accounted for 36 percent of the assistant professors in political science, but only 28 percent of the associate professors and just 17 percent of full professors. Some women—especially those engaged with the research communities on women and/or gender in international studies—have found high-quality outlets in journals such as the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Politics and Gender, and the Journal of Women, Politics, and Policy. However, women whose work does not focus on those research communities are unlikely to benefit from the existence of these journals.

Article

Michael Kuchinsky

Various media sources are available to enhance the teaching of international affairs, including literature, film, political cartoons, television programming, newspapers, music, and blogs and other internet-driven resources. Literature has perhaps the longest history as an alternative media resource. The arguments in favor of using literature for teaching international affairs focus on engaging students and livening up their learning experience. Film and video resources can enhance knowledge of international relations by dramatizing and personalizing abstract ideas as well as ordinary events. Films also impact student learning because of their emotional appeal. Cartoons as political expression deserve attention because their significant place in forming public opinion and debate. Although the use of television programming in teaching international affairs appears rarely in the literature, one can consider several current and past popular programs that carried significant political content. These include the European-produced miniseries Traffic that graphically depicted the international political economy of opium, and the syndicated television comedy M*A*S*H, which has raised many questions regarding the pursuit and effects of war. Music and politics frequently mix, as seen in the importance of a national anthem or the political spectacle that unfolds in Olympic Games. Digital online sources and materials push the classroom experience away from linear input–output models and toward information network communities where inputs enter from anywhere.

Article

The central feature of the English School is now usually considered to be its commitment to the proposition that international relations (IR) take place within an international society of shared norms and some shared values. However, an exclusive focus on norms has the effect of denuding the school of the more pluralistic dimensions that were advocated by some of the founding members of the British Committee on the Theory of International Politics. Hedley Bull, in particular, stressed that to account for international order it is necessary to view IR from three divergent perspectives: the international system, the international society, and world society. The early British Committee discussions, directed toward delineating the “fundamentals” of international theory, used the terms international society, international system, and states system interchangeably. But the idea of a states system was distinctive to the emerging English School. A distinguishing marker of the English School is the claim that not only is there a need to accommodate societal norms in theoretical accounts of world politics, but that there is also a systemic logic, and that these analytics together have explanatory power in considering how the world hangs together. The essential elements of the school’s thinking were most fully and effectively realized in The Expansion of the International Society, the central work where the international system–international society distinction is employed. This grand narrative represents a crucial contribution to the field of IR but one that has been very generally underappreciated across the discipline. To generate a deeper understanding of the two concepts, it is clear that much more research needs to be carried out on international societies and systems around the world.

Article

The English School conceived “international theory” as a way to approach the political philosophy and political speculation by examining historical traditions of international relations. The starting point for this line of inquiry was to organize the wide range of material contained in the history of ideas about international politics into a much simpler, and thus more intelligible, scheme, in the event comprising three traditions. Martin Wight called them realism, rationalism, and revolutionism, but they are also known as Hobbesianism (or Machiavellianism), Grotianism, and Kantianism. The fundamental difference between the three traditions is that each represents an idea of what international society is, from which they derive various propositions about more specific topics such as how to deal with peoples from different cultures, how to conduct diplomacy and wage war, or what obligations under international law are. For realists, international society is the state of nature, and since they see the state of nature as a state of war, the answer to the question “What is international society?” is “nothing.” Rationalists agree that international society is the state of nature, but for them it is a state of “goodwill, mutual assistance and preservation,” and so “international society is a true society, but institutionally deficient; lacking a common superior or judiciary.” Revolutionists, by contrast, reject the analogy with the state of nature. Instead, they have an immanent conception of international society, in the sense that they look beyond the apparent or present reality of a society of sovereign states and see behind it a true international society in the form of a community of mankind. Ultimately, these three traditions has exercised a profound influence on the ways in which international relations scholars think about the history of ideas.

Article

Changes in the environment can impact international relations theory, despite enjoying only a limited amount of attention from scholars of the discipline. The sorts of influence that may be identified include ontology, epistemology, concepts, and methods, all of these being related to varying perspectives on international relations. It is likely that the most profound implications arise at the ontological level, since this establishes assumptions about, for example, whether the world we wish to understand is both political and ecological. However, more recently the recognition of the practical challenge presented by the environment has become widespread, though it has not yet translated into a significant impact on the discipline of international relations, even when theoretical implications are noted. It is now almost obligatory to include the environment in any list of modern international relations concerns, as over time it has become necessary to include peace, underdevelopment, gender, or race, as they quite rightly became recognized as significant aspects of the field. Moreover, the environment, as a relatively novel subject matter, has naturally brought some critique and innovation to the field. However, studies of the environment are also subject to such descriptors as “mainstream” and “radical” in debates about how best to tackle the subject. As is often the case, the debates are sharpest among those with the greatest interest in the subject.

Article

Teaching international political sociology (IPS) is intellectually rewarding yet pedagogically challenging. In the conventional International Relations (IR) curriculum, IPS students have to set aside many of the premises, notions, and models they learned in introductory classes, such as assumptions of instrumental rationality and canonical standards of positivist methodology. Once problematized, these traditional starting points in IR are replaced with a number of new dispositions, some of which are counterintuitive, that allow students to take a fresh look at world politics. In the process, IPS opens many more questions than it provides clear-cut answers, making the approach look very destabilizing for students. The objective of teaching IPS is to sow the seeds of three key dispositions inside students’ minds. First, students must appreciate the fact that social life consists primarily of relations that make the whole bigger than the parts. Second, they must be aware that social action is infused with meanings upon which both cooperative and conflictual relations hinge. Third, they have to develop a degree of reflexivity in order to realize that social science is a social practice just like others, where agents enter in various relations and struggle over the meanings of the world. There are four primary methods of teaching IPS, each with its own merits and limits: induction, ontology, historiography, and classics.

Article

A constant source of concern for feminists working in International Relations (IR) has been the field’s implied or stated boundaries. During the first ten years of its existence (roughly covering the years 1985–1995), the main goal of feminist IR was to challenge a caged-in knowledge realm that excluded more phenomena than it promised to seek. By the early twenty-first century, IR had devolved into a camp structure that was able to accommodate on the inside all manner of theories, people, and places. Yet while feminism contributed to troubled boundaries of IR, it did so against the backdrop of internal boundary dilemmas of inside and outside, good women/bad women, authentic versus dominant voice, gender versus feminism, and so on. Today, feminist IR is somewhat different from its earlier orientations. It now draws heavily on postmodern thinking about margins, multiple truths, subjugated identities and discourses, and power in general, and takes on IR theory and methodology using insights from postmodern thinking and other disciplines such as anthropology and geography. Feminist IR continues to bring new locations of the international and relations to the fore. Two such areas deal with the subject of violent women in international relations and the urgencies of development around the world.

Article

Xinyuan Dai, Duncan Snidal, and Michael Sampson

The study of international cooperation has emerged and evolved over the past few decades as a cornerstone of international relations research. The strategy here for reviewing such a large literature is to focus primarily on the rational choice and game theoretic approaches that instigated it and have subsequently guided its advance. Without these theoretical efforts, the study of international cooperation could not have made nearly as much progress—and it certainly would not have taken the form it does in the 21st century. Through this lens, we can identify major themes in this literature and highlight key challenges for future research