Chapter 2- Theories of World Politics Theories and Change in World Politics Theory- A set of hypotheses postulating the relationship between variables or conditions advanced to describe, explain, or predict phenomena and make prescriptions about how positive changes ought to be engineered to realize particular goals and ethical principles Each theory rests on different assumptions about the nature of international politics, each advances different claims about causes, and each offers a different set of foreign policy recommendations Paradigm- Derived from the Greek paradeigma, meaning an example, a model, or an essential pattern; a paradigm structures thought about an area of inquiry These tend to be revised in order to explain new developments Cycles are embedded in history, and theory is forever evolving in an effort to stay in sync with history?s pendulum World War I, II, the Cold War, and the 9/11 terrorist attacks shattered the preexisting international order. Each shaped policy makers? perceptions of world politics, and each provided lessons critical to developing policies to best preserve world order Realist Theory Realism- A paradigm based on the premise that world politics is essentially and unchangeably a struggle among self-interested states for power and position under anarchy with each competing state pursuing its own national interests The Realist Worldview View state as most important actor on world stage because it answers to no higher political authority Power-The factors that enable one actor to manipulate another actor?s behavior against its preferences Self-Help- Principle that because in international anarchy all global actors are independent, they must rely on themselves to provide for their security and well-being Relative Gains- Conditions in which some participants in cooperative interactions benefit more than others National Interest- Goals that states pursue to maximize what they perceive to be selfishly best for their country Balance of power- The theory that peace and stability are most likely to be maintained when military power is distributed to prevent a single superpower hegemon or bloc from controlling the world With their emphasis on the ruthless nature of international life, realists often question letting ethical considerations enter foreign policy deliberations Whatever actions that are in the interest of state security must be carried out no matter how repugnant they might seem in light of private morality The Evolution of Realist Thought Modern realism emerged on the eve of WWII, when he prevailing belief in a natural harmony of interests among states came under attack The onset of rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the expansion of the Cold War into a wider struggle between East and West, and the periodic crises that threatened to erupt into global violence all supported the realists? emphasis on the inevitability of conflict, the poor prospects for cooperation, and the divergence of national interests among incorrigibly selfish, power-seeking states Classical realists sought to explain state behavior by looking at the individual level, the next wave of realist theorizing emphasized on global level Neorealism- Theoretical account of states? behavior that explains it as determined by difference in their relative power within the global hierarchy, defined primarily by the distribution of military power, instead of by other factors such as their values, types of government, or domestic circumstances Structural Realism- Neorealist theory postulating that the structure of the global system determines the behavior of transnational actors within it The Limitations of Realism Lack of precision in the way hey used key terms as power and national interest Realism offered no criteria for determining what historical data were significant in evaluating its claims and what epistemological rules to follow when interpreting relevant information Realism did not account for significant new developments in world politics Realism?s tendency to disregard ethical principles Material and social costs that some of its policy prescriptions seemed to impose, e.g. retarded economic growth resulting from unstrained military expenditures Liberal Theory Liberalism- Paradigm predicated on the hope that the application of reason and universal ethics to international relations can lead to a more orderly, just, and cooperative world; liberalism assumes that anarchy and war can be policed by institutional reforms that empower international organization and law The Liberal Worldview Belief in reason and the possibility of progress Emphasis on ethical principle over the pursuit of power and institutions over military capabilities Need to substitute attitudes that stress the unity of humankind for those that stressed parochial national loyalties to independent sovereign states Importance of individuals Use of power of ideas through education to arouse world public opinion against warfare Zero-Sum- An exchange in a purely conflictual relationship in which what is gained by one competitor is lost by the other Emphasis on free trade (commerce can reduce conflict) Advocacy of global institutions (a threat to peace anywhere is a common threat) The Evolution of Liberal Thought Contemporary liberal theory rose to prominence in the wake of WWI Collective Security- Security regime agree to by the great powers that set rules for keeping peace, guided by the principle that an act of aggression by any state will be met by a collective response from the rest Second group: Use of legal procedures to adjudicate disputes before they escalated to armed conflict Third group: Biblical injunction that states should beat their swords into plowshares and sought disarmament as means of avoiding war Transnational Relations- Interactions across state boundaries that involves at least one actor that is not the agent of a government or intergovernmental organization Complex Interdependence- Model of world politics based on the assumptions that states are not the only important actors, security is not the dominant national goal, and military force is not the only significant instrument of foreign policy; this theory stresses crosscutting ways in which the growing ties among transnational actors make them vulnerable to each other?s actions and sensitive to each other?s needs International Regime- Concept constructed to explain the benefits to actors supporting particular rules to regulate a specific international problem, such as disposal of toxic wastes Neoliberalism- ?New? liberal theoretical perspective that accounts for the way international institutions promote global change, cooperation, peace, and prosperity through collective programs for reforms Like realism and neorealism, neoliberalism does not represent a consistent and intellectual movement or school of thought The Limitations of Liberalism Absolute Gains- Conditions in which all participants in exchanges become better off Regimes- Rules agreed upon by states to work together to manage shared problems, because long-term benefits to all are expected even though short-term relative losses may be encountered International organizations cannot stop states from behaving according to balance-of-power logic, calculating how each move they make affects their relative position in a world of relentless competition Critics contend that most studies supportive of international institutions appear in low politics, not high politics Low Politics- Category of global issues related to the economic, social, demographic, and environmental aspects of relations between governments and people High Politics- Geostrategic issues of national and international security that pertain to matters of war and peace Alleged tendency to turn foreign policy into a moral crusade Consequentialism- An approach to evaluating moral choices on the basis of the results of the action taken Realists embrace this Constructivist Theory Constructivist Theory- Theoretical approach advocated by Alexander Wendt that sees self-interested states as the key actors in world politics; their actions are determined not by anarchy but by the ways that states socially construct and then accept images of reality and later respond to the meanings given to power politics; as consensual definitions change, it is possible for either conflictual or cooperative practices to evolve The Constructivist Worldview Material conditions acquire meaning for human action only through the shared knowledge that circulating ideas ascribe to them Socially popular visions of realities provide transnational actors with certain identities and interests, and material capabilities with certain meanings ?Anarchy? depends on underlying shared knowledge The Evolution of Constructivist Thought Includes diverse scholars who agree that the international institutions most people take for granted as natural and inevitable result of world politics need not exist Norms- Generalized standards of behavior that, once accepted, shape collective expectations about appropriate conduct The game of international power revolves around actors? abilities through debate about values to persuade others to accept their ideas The Limitations of Constructivism If changes in ideas through discussions and discourses lead to behavioral changes within the global system, what accounts for the rise and fall of different ideas and discourses over time? How, when, and why do changes in shared knowledge emerge? Excessive faith in the ability of ideas that seem self-evident today to replicate and sustain themselves Overemphasizes role of social structures at the expense of the purposeful agents whose practices help create and change these structures What?s Missing in Theories of World Politics? The Radical Critique Karl Marx: argument that explaining events in world affairs requires understanding capitalism as a global phenomenon Whereas realists emphasize state security, liberals accentuate individual freedom, and constructivists highlight ideas and identities, socialists focus on class conflict and the material interests of each class Dependency Theory- Hypothesizes that less developed countries are exploited because global capitalism makes them dependent on the rich countries that create exploitative rules for trade and production World-System Theory- Body of theory that treats the capitalistic world economy originating in the 16th century as an interconnected unit of analysis encompassing the entire globe, with an international division of labor and multiple political centers and cultures whose rules constrain and share the behavior of all transnational actors Overemphasize economic interpretations of international events and consequently omit other potentially important explanatory factors The Feminist Critique Feminist Theory- Body of scholarship that emphasizes gender in the study of world politics Although feminists stress the importance of gender in studying international relations, there are several contending schools of thought within the scholarship Theorizing about Theory Deconstructivism- Postmodern theory that the complexity of the world system renders precise description impossible and that the purpose of scholarship is to understand actors? hidden motives by deconstructing their textual statements All peoples? conceptions of global realities relative to their understandings Behavioralism- Methodological research movement to incorporate rigorous scientific analysis into the study of world politics so that conclusions about patterns are based on measurement, data, and evidence rather than on speculation and subjective belief Hypotheses- Speculative statements about the probable relationship between independent variables and a dependent variable Epistemology- Philosophical examination of the ways in which knowledge is acquired and the analytic principles governing the study of phenomena International Theory and the Global Future All theories are maps of possible futures In evaluating the usefulness of any theory to interpret global conditions, the historical overview in this chapter suggests that it would be wrong to oversimplify or to assume that a particular theory will remain useful in the future Although realism, liberalism, and constructivism are the dominant ways of thinking about world politics today, none of these is completely satisfactory Kegley, Charles. World Politics: Trend and Transformation.
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