International Relations Theories





Answer the below five questions: 200-240 words response to each questions:
International Relations Theories (IR) –
Q1: What are the main attributes of the Realist approach to international relations? What about the Neorealist approach? Are there any world events that might be better understood using this theoretical perspective?
Q2: What are the main attributes of the Liberal approach to international relations? What about the Neoliberal approach? Which world events that might be better understood using this theoretical perspective?
Q3: What are the main attributes of the Constructivist approach to international relations? What about The English School approach? Are there any world events that might be better understood using this theoretical perspective?
Q4: How do Marxism and critical theory apply to international relations? How do they compare and contrast with the approaches we have already discussed? Are there any current events or policy issues to which we could apply a Marxist or critical theory lens?
Q5: How do the IR theories compare to the theories we have already discussed? How might we utilize these theories in examining world events














International Relations Theories

Question 1

The realism theory of international relations indicates that the behavior of each state is influenced by its political, economic, and security interests in relation to other states (Brown, 2009). There are two schools of thought as far as realism theory of international relations is concerned. Realists is a group of scholars who believe that the struggle for power at the global level results from human’s natural urge to dominate others politically. They indicate that states are used by humans as a means of pursuing power at the international level. They indicate that international politics lack central authority, a phenomenon that promotes anarchy where political leaders can do anything to expand the interests of their states to international politics. On the other hand, Neorealism refers to a theory that opposes the human’s natural urge to dominate others as the cause of international conflicts (Brown, 2009). The theory suggests that it is not the human nature that plays a key role in seeking power among nations, but the structure and context of the international system. Thus, the theory insinuates that it is the desire of nations to protect themselves through power-seeking actions that lead to anarchy. Ukrainian Crisis is an example where realism theory can apply. The United States perceives Russia as its greatest enemy and wanted to spy them by pretending to solve Ukraine’s economic and political woes (Brown, 2009).  Russia perceived the action of the United States to solve economic and political crises as a threat and acted to generate an equal threat by annexing Crimea.

Question 2

Unlike realism, liberalism rejects power politics as the sole outcome of international relations and indicates that states do not only worry about maximizing power, but rather focuses more on building a just world where cooperation is crucial (Boas & Gans-Morse, 2009). Classical liberals indicate that the principle of negotiation and cooperation among nations and actors is a much better approach than conflict, which could result in loss of life, as well as potential political and economic instability. Therefore, the theory promotes values such as liberty and order in international systems and disregards warfare as the major method of settling disputes among states. Neoliberalism is a theory originating from classical liberalism. However, the two theories are different in that neoliberalism advocate for the maximization of absolute gains (Boas & Gans-Morse, 2009). Realism supports the maximization of absolute gains through any means, including using military force, while neoliberalism indicates that states should seek maximization of absolute gains through cooperation. The Cuban Missile Crisis is a good example of Liberalism in a real-life situation. During the crisis, both the United States and the Soviet Union resorted to peaceful talks rather than direct conflict in solving the dispute. The features of the Cuban Crisis, according to liberalists, reveal how cooperation can play a crucial role in international relations (Boas & Gans-Morse, 2009). The events also suggest that nations can negotiate and cooperate to make overall gains or prevent direct conflicts.

Question 3

Constructivism is an international relations theory stating that most aspects of the international relationships among nations are socially and politically constructed, as opposed to the consequences of human nature and various characteristics of global politics (Reus-Smit, 2009). The theory indicates that the key aspects of international relations among states are shaped by the ongoing processes of social interaction and practices. Constructivist contend that structure and agency are mutually instituted in that agency can influence structures and vice versa. In the international relations context, agency refers to the ability of the states to act, while structures represent a global system consisting of educational and material elements. The English School approach is similar to the constructivist approach that both schools of thought appreciate the role of the social aspect of human beings in shaping international relations. However, unlike the constructivist approach, the English approach explains how social factors affecting international relations come about (Reus-Smit, 2009). It states that social factors are already in existence in society. The United States and North Korea relationships provide an example of how differences in social ideas and beliefs can severely affect the relationship between the two countries. The enmity between these countries results from sharp differences in their social ideas and beliefs. If these beliefs and ideas change, the relationship between the United States and North Korea can change to a more friendly relation. For the United States, North Korea is more of a security threat despite having few nuclear warheads than countries such as France, England, and Israel. From this perspective, constructivism states that the relationship between nations is socially constructed.

Question 4

According to Marxism theory, the instability observed in the international system result from oppressive societal structures such as capitalism (Davenport, 2013). The principle of capitalism has expanded beyond individual countries and assumed a global perspective. The critical theory states that social structures that lead to oppression and domination of people should be abandoned. Like Marxist theory, Critical theory appreciates the existence of oppressive structures in society, such as capitalism. Marxism and critical theories are similar to dependency theory already discussed in this course, whereas the latter states that developed countries have created a scenario that promotes the flow of resources from low-income countries to wealthy states through systems such as capitalism, therefore enriching the latter at the expense of the former (Davenport, 2013). Thus, the dependency theory suggests that rich countries have dominated and are oppressing less-developed countries. However, the theories are different because Marxism theory explains why imperialism occurs, whereas the dependency theory explains the outcome of imperialism. Through capitalism ideas, powerful allies inside and outside key regions of the global system have created economic and political institutions that put pressure on low-income countries (Davenport, 2013). In the pursuit of wealth, developed nations penetrate low-income countries through missionaries, political advisors, experts, and multinational corporations. In the process, they integrate the capitalist system in these countries for the appropriation of natural resources, a move that fosters dependence of low-income nations on rich states.

Question 5

Various theories that have been discussed in class include economic structuralism, globalism, and Marxism. All these theories have one thing in common; they provide the relationship between low-income states and developed countries. For instance, globalism refers to the increasing economic cooperation and interdependence among local, national, and regional economies all over the world via the intensification of cross-border movement of ideas, commodities, services capital, and technologies. However, although this economic movement should benefit all parties involved, it only benefits rich countries and results in the oppression of low-income countries (Missio et al., 2015). On the other hand, Marxism theory states that economic systems such as capitalism have resulted in inequality between developed and developing countries. Economic structuralism theory states that distorted development and economic inequality is an intrinsic structural feature of a global system of exchange. These theories are related to realism in that realism indicates that the behavior of states is influenced by their political, economic, and security interests and not by the welfare of other states (Missio et al., 2015). The dependency theories are different from liberalism because the latter advocates for a just world as opposed to the exploitative nature discussed by dependency theories. In the modern world, according to globalism or economic structuralism or Marxism, rich countries only care about their economic welfare while doing business with less-developed countries, and they offer aid to these states with the aim of benefiting rather than helping.




















Boas, T. C., & Gans-Morse, J. (2009). Neoliberalism: From new liberal philosophy to anti-liberal slogan. Studies in comparative international development44(2), 137-161.

Brown, C. (2009). Structural realism, classical realism and human nature. International Relations23(2), 257-270.

Davenport, A. (2013). Marxism in IR: Condemned to a realist fate?. European Journal of International Relations19(1), 27-48.

Missio, F., JayMe Jr, F. G., & Oreiro, J. L. (2015). The structuralist tradition in economics: methodological and macroeconomics aspects. Brazilian Journal of Political Economy35(2), 247-266.

Reus-Smit, C. (2009). Constructivism and the English school. In Theorising International Society (pp. 58-77). Palgrave Macmillan, London.


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