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Theories about International Relations Essay


Introduction

International relations may be defined as the increased interaction between countries, states, government and individuals on the global front. International relation can also be defined as the study of relationships between various states, non-governmental organizations, individuals and multinational companies.

These interactions can either be interaction in public policy or academic interactions. A theory can be defined as a school of thought or an explanation as to why something exists.

Critical theories of international relations will always give the various thoughts about the idea of international relations (Baylis, Smith & Owen, 2007).

The theories will criticize and provide both the positive and the negative side of international relations. There are various theories and school of thought regarding international relations.

Some of the theories are for the idea of increasing and promoting international relations while other theories criticize the idea of international relations.

There are various theories of international relations which include the following; Epistemology and IR theory, Positivist theory, leadership theories and reflectivist theories. All the above theories provide an explanation and a different opinion about the idea of international relation theory (Jørgensen, 2010).

This essay is going to critically evaluate the statement whether we need theories of international relations or not. The paper is also going to evaluate the various available schools of thought about the international relations concept.

Background information

As earlier stated, international relations is the study of interactions between companies, governments, multinational companies and individuals on the global front. With every idea or concept, there exists a school of thought which can be against or for the idea. International relations concept is not an exemption (Baylis, Smith & Owen, 2007).

There are various ideas and concepts that explain the whole concept of international relations. Some of these schools of thoughts are against the idea of international relations while other schools of thought are for the idea of international relations.

International relations should not be mistakenly used as referring to the globalization. International relations and globalization are two different and distinct concepts (Anna, 2010).

Traditional theories of international relations are the various schools of thought that criticize the political status and the theoretical aspect on the international front.

Traditional theories of international relations are grouped into two broad categories which include are; the positivist and the post-positivist.

The positivist theories include the following; realism theory, idealism theory, neoliberalism theory and regime theory. The post-positivist include the following theories; international society theories, social constructivism, Marxism and critical theories.

Discussion

Traditional theories of international relations. As earlier stated, there exists various theories which include the following; epistemology theories, Positivist theories, leadership theories, post-positivist theories.

The above theories and school of thoughts have different and varied perspective about the concept and idea of International relations (Beeson & Bisley, 2010).

Epistemology theories

Epistemology theories basically are concerned with the political aspect of international relations. The theory focuses on the international relations in terms of political size of the various countries, their military forces as well as the balancing of power among the different states. The theory puts more emphasis on how power should be exercised among the various states (Little & Smith, 2006).

Positivist theories

There are various positivist theories that explain the international relations concept. The various positivist theories include the following; realism theory, idealism theory, neoliberalism theory and regime theory (Schoenbaum, 2006).

The realism theory is basically concerned with the security and power distribution as an international relations concept. The proponents of these theories pointed to the fact that states are self-centered and will always seek power in order to guarantee their safety.

The theory states that the only way to guarantee states security is by having increased interaction among the various states. The theory also notes that a state of war is triggered by a self –interest motive.

For example, the theory gives the reason of self-interest as the major reasons why World War was initiated (Baylis Smith & Owen, 2007).

The liberalism theory emerged after the World War II as a result of the inability of the various states to control war. The theory points out to the fact that international relations should foster peace, harmony and economic gains among the various states.

War in a country is detrimental since it is destructive and undermines the promotion of these values on the global front. The theory focused on human rights, and states that international relation should seek to promote and advance the various human rights (Dunne, Kurki & Smith, 2010).

The neo-liberalism theory is an updated version of the liberalism theory. The theory purports that the parties involved in international relations are mostly the various states globally.

The theory does not refute the fact that intergovernmental and non-state actors also play a role in international relations. The theory states that various governments have the full autonomy of making their own choices and the way they conduct their policies.

The state can conduct their policies in whatever manner they like without any interference from international organizations (Goldstein, 2009).

The theory also has an economic aspect about international relations. The theory states that there should be a free international market and open markets.

The theory also points that there should be a reduced monopoly in the international markets and governments should do whatever they can to stop market monopoly.

The proponents of the theory state that international relations should foster the development of various institutions on the global front (Dunne, Kurki & Smith, 2010).

The regime theory borrows some of its ideologies and principles from the liberalism theory. The theory states that international institutions will always affect how states behave on the global front.

The theory argues that regimes are created due to increased international relations. The theory points out that there is increased cooperation among various states despite the presence of anarchy.

The theory notes that this instance of cooperation in trade, human rights and security among the various states constitutes a regime. The theory also notes that the main essence of international relation is to create convergence of ideas and expectations (Beate, 2010).

Post- Positivist Theory

There are various post-positivist theories that explain the international relations theory. Post-positivist theories are considered as theories that are based on the ideology that the social world cannot in any manner be studied in an objective and a value free manner.

There are various theories that are classified as post-positivist theories. They include the following theories; international society theories, social constructivism, Marxism and critical theories.

The international society theory is also known as the English theory. The theory is mainly concerned with the various values and norms that the states should promote and how such values and norms regulate the international relations of various states.

Such norms and values include the following; international law, order and diplomacy among states. The theory states that international relation should promote and international society made up of several norms and values (Mowat, 1966).

The social constructivism theory is basically based on the role of ideation, structure and the agents of international relations. The social constructivism theory states that there must be some social guidelines that will guide the state and various actors and players in the international relations front.

The theory states that in order to have better international relations, the states and key players should promote the ideation concept.

The critical theory basically puts more emphasis on the concept of political freedom in international relations. The theory states that there must be a complete liberation of individuals from the states.

There must be a political emancipation of individuals from the states. This will eventually create political freedom and enhance peaceful international relations (Tim, 2010).

The Marxism theory states that international relations is not based on state conflict or cooperation. Marxist suggests that international relation exists to foster economic and material aspects.

The theory point out that economy is the key factor in promoting international relations. The theory states that, various states will always seek for international relations because they are seeking political mileage (Weber, 2009).

Leadership theories

There are two main leadership theories which explain the concept of international relations. The two main theories include the following; interest group perspective and the strategic perspective.

The interest group perspective theory proposes that different states act according to the needs of the people within it. The theory gives example of interest groups as political groups, human rights groups, military and the corporate sector.

The theory states that these groups will always dictate the exercise of state powers within a state (Wilkinson, 2010).

The strategic group theory indicates that individuals should be solely held responsible for their actions. It states that individuals choose their actions depending on how other individuals will respond to their actions.

The theory also notes that individuals will always act in order to satisfy their own individual’s interests.

Post structuralist theory

The theory has a traditional approach towards the concept of international relation. The theory also examines how the traditional concepts such as agencies and power shape the international relations concept.

The theory also looks at the traditional narratives and their role in shaping international relations. For example, the theory looks at the role of women in the society and how the gender group has always been portrayed as “civilians” and “innocent victims” during the times of war (Linda, 2010).

Critical theories of international relations.

Critical theory of international relation was first propagated by the Frankfurt school in the 1980’s. The theory studies the underlying social structures in international relations and how to overcome such social structures. Critical theory emerged following the emergence and spread of the traditional theories which became so popular

How critical theories criticizes other theories

Critical theories and positivism

Positivism basically empathizes on real knowledge and the modern science concept. The theory states that knowledge is universal and is based on observation of facts.

Critical theory objects the positivism theory in two ways. Firstly positivist failed to recognize the attention in the control of things because it was based on its own ideas.

Secondly, the theory ideology and dogma of treating facts as ‘given’ basically implied abstracting them from the totality which shaped them.

Critical theory and post- Marxism

Post- Marxism largely dwelt on the idea that humans being can be liberated from historical happenings and circumstances. The theory also asserts to the importance of controlling the means of production as the main cause of international relations. Critical theory refutes this fact because oppression is not caused by dominance in the means of production alone. Other forms of oppression exist like those based on gender, nationalism, ethnicity or religion.

Importance of critical theory

Critical theories of international relations are very important because of the various reasons. The theory is built around various concepts which include the following; democracy, liberation and justice and equality.

The critical theories emphasize more about the unjust and lack of equality among the current states international relations. The theory tries to identify the various sources of inequality and injustices and addresses them (Donnelly, 2000).

The critical theory also emphasizes on the emancipation and liberation of human beings from forms of oppression through self-reflection.

The theory also fosters democracy on the global front. The theory also criticizes the capitalist forms of democracy that was being propagated by the traditional theories. The theory emphasizes on the establishment of a radical democracy (Rochester & Pearson, 1997).

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are various theories that explain the existence and importance of international relations. The theories give an overview of the whole idea of international relations.

From the various theories, an individual is able to know the various reasons why international relation exists and then apply the varied reasons to their specific case.

However the theories are not a valid explanation to the whole idea of international relation. International relation is a multi-faceted concept and various ideas, scenarios and applications should be considered before coming up with a concrete explanation of international relations.

International relation is caused by a number of factors, and the factors will always vary depending with the various scenarios. Hence, the above theories should not be solely used as the only way, and schools of thought the explain international relations.

Reference List

Anna, S. 2010.”Missing the target NGO’s, global civil society”, Journal of International relations and development, Vol. 15 (3)

Baylis, J., Smith, S. & Owen, P., 2007. The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Oxford: Oxford university press.

Beate, J. 2010. “Critique in a time of liberal world order”, Journal of international relations and development, Vol. 15 (3)

Beeson, M. & Bisley, N., 2010. Issues in 21st Century World Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Donnelly, J., 2000. Realism and international Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dunne, T., Kurki, M. & Smith, S., 2010. International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Goldstein, J., 2009. International Relations. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Jørgensen, K., 2010. International Relations Theory. Basingstoke: Palgrave.

Little, R. & Smith, M., 2006. Perspectives on World Politics. London: Routledge.

Linda, B. 2010. “Liberal internationalism and laws vs. liberty paradox”, Journal of International relations and development, Vol. 15 (3)

Mowat, R., 1966. International Relations. New York: Books for Libraries Press.

Rochester, J. & Pearson, F., 1997. International relations: the global condition in the Twenty century. New York: McGraw- Hill.

Schoenbaum, T., 2006. International relations: the path not taken: Using international Law to promote world peace and security. New York: Cambridge University press.

Tim, M. 2010. “The liberal renaissance and the ends of history”, Journal of International relations and development, Vol. 15 (3)

Weber, C., 2009. International Relations Theory: A critical introduction. London: Taylor & Francis.

Wilkinson, P., 2010. International Relations: New York: Sterling Publishing.

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