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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Theories of World Politics Concepts paradigm: dominant way of looking at a particular subject; structures patterns of inquiry and interpretation

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Chapter 2

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  1. Chapter 2 Theories of World Politics

  2. Concepts • paradigm: dominant way of looking at a particular subject; structures patterns of inquiry and interpretation • theory: set of hypotheses postulating relationships between variables; used to describe, explain, and predict; must be falsifiable and stand the test of time

  3. Concepts, continued • constructivism: acceptance of a paradigm is dependent upon agreement of important theoreticians and relevant groups • geopolitics: the relationship between geography, state power, and world politics • current history approach: focuses on description of events rather than theoretical explanations of events

  4. Liberalism • holds that reason and ethics can overcome international anarchy to create a more orderly and cooperative world • stresses the importance of international institutions • also associated with “idealism”

  5. Aspects of Liberalism • unity of humankind more important than national loyalties • importance of the individual and promotion of human rights and civil liberties • using ideas and education to promote world peace • free international trade

  6. Aspects of Liberalism, cont. • an end to secret diplomacy • terminate interlocking bilateral alliances • self-determination of nationalities • promotion of democracy • associated with President Woodrow Wilson and his Fourteen Points

  7. Realism • Anarchy characterizes the international system. • World politics is a struggle among self-interested states for power. • Each state pursues its national interest. • “Realpolitik”--states should be prepared for war in order to preserve peace

  8. Realism’s Tenets • People are selfish and ethically flawed and compete for self-advantage. • People have an instinctive lust for power. • Eradicating this instinct is not possible. • International politics is a struggle for power. • The prime obligation of the state is promoting the national interest.

  9. Realism’s Tenets, continued • Anarchical international system requires states to acquire military power. • Military power is more important than economics. • Do not trust allies. • Resist international efforts to control state protection and institute global governance. • Seek flexible alliances to maintain a balance of power

  10. Criticism of Realism • could not explain increased cooperation after World War Two • many of its propositions not easily testable: criticized by behavioral scientists • disregards ethical principals • focuses on military might at economic and social expense of states

  11. Neorealism • accepts much of realism • states’ behavior determined by differences in relative power • all states have same objectives, but different capacities to realize them • distribution of capacities determines structure of the international system • global level of analysis

  12. Neoliberalism • developed by critics of realism/neorealism • focuses on how IGOs and other nonstate actors promote cooperation and peace • examines how states cooperate with other and de-emphasize conflict • points to regional integration, especially the European Union

  13. Feminist Critique • women mostly excluded from power in world politics • male policymakers downplay importance of global injustices to women • sexism as a pillar of war system • realism inattentive to human rights and rationalizes aggression • feminist theory focuses on increasing international cooperation

  14. Transnational Interdependence • complex interdependence: growing ties among transnational actors increases both vulnerability and sensitivity • globalization: • integration and growing interdependence of states through increasing contact and trade • creates a global culture • decreases the ability of states to control people and events

  15. International Regimes • “institutionalized or regularized patterns of cooperation with respect to a given issue or problem according to established rules” • World Trade Organization • International Monetary Fund • nuclear nonproliferation

  16. Constructivism • deconstruction • chaos theory • epistemology • social constructivism

  17. Table 2.1: The Quest for Theory: Five Major Perspectives

  18. Table 2.1: The Quest for Theory: Five Major Perspectives, cont.

  19. Discussion • What are the strong and weak aspects of realism? • Why is behavioralism an important component of the social sciences? • How does neoliberalism differ from liberalism?

  20. Discussion, continued • Which theory has the best explanatory and predictive power regarding the 2003 confrontation between the United States and Iraq? • Which theory has the best explanatory and predictive for world politics in general? • Does the nature of the international system change over time?

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