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Introduction to International Relations


Introduction to International Relations * * * * * * * * * * * * The Study of International Relations International relations pertains to the study of state and non ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to International Relations

Introduction to International Relations
The Study of International Relations
  • International relations pertains to the study of
    state and non-state actors and their relationship
    to each other in the international system.
    Narrowly defined The field of IR concerns the
    relationships among states (or governments).
  • International system
  • A patterned set of interactions among the major
    political actors on the international stage.

IR and Daily Life
  • IR profoundly affects your life as well as that
    of other citizens.
  • Prospects for getting jobs
  • Global economy
  • International economic competition
  • Jobs entail international travel, sales, or
  • Rules of the world-trading system affect what you
    may consume.
  • War is among the most pervasive international
    influences in daily life, even in peacetime.
  • World is shrinking year by year.

  • Information Revolution Growing accumulation of
    human knowledge and the accessibility of new
    knowledge through rapidly spreading technologies
  • Increasing Global Productivity efficiency of
    economic output is enhanced through the
    introduction, spread, and improvement of
    computer-based technologies, spread of MNCs
    (economic enterprises with operations in two or
    more countries), and the mobility of global
  • Rapid Rise of Newly Emerging Global Economies
    China, India, Brazil augers the potential for
    reduction in global poverty
  • Development of Renewable Energy Sources new
    research and technology investment in energy
    sources of sun, wind, and biomass etc.
  • Global Spread of Democracy unprecedented
    adoption of democratic ideas and institutions
    around the world

  • Continued Growth of Authoritative Global and
    Regional Institutions WTO, WHO, EU, OPECthese
    coordinate national policies with regional and
    even global norms and practices
  • Proliferation and Networking of NGOs Growth of
    global civil society through people organizing
    across borders to address global threats,
    humanitarian crisis and aid, technical
    information, cultural, political, and social
  • Growth of international regimes formal and
    informal coordination and collaboration in
    certain issue areas to maximize global security
    and prosperity
  • Decline of interstate Warfare
  • Rapid Proliferation of International Law
    protecting the individual codification of human
    rights, spreading norms or racial and gender

  • Global Environmental Degradation these global
    threats include
  • global warming, the thinning of the protective
    ozone layer of the atmosphere accompanied by
    rising rates of skin cancer
  • destruction of the worlds rain forests (global
    lungs) and denuding of other forested areas
  • rapid urbanization owing to peasant flight to
    megacities in countries like China and India with
    accompanying pollution and urban poverty
  • Spread of deserts into formerly fertile regions
    of Asia, Africa, and Latin America
  • The elimination of species of plants and animals
    and reduction in biodiversity
  • Accumulation of radioactive debris and nuclear

  • Overpopulation in developing world may
    contribute to famine, spread of disease (AIDS),
    land hunger, political unrest, and large-scale
    migration to rich states with aging and shrinking
  • Resource Depletion energy demands outstrip known
    reserves of petroleum and natural gas as growing
    populations and economic development places ever
    greater stress on finite sources of fresh water
    and fertile land
  • Proliferation of Religious and Ethnic Extremism
    identity construction in the age of globalization
    prompts fragmentation, the questioning of
    authoritative governmental and social structures
    from below target often innocent civilians
  • Global Proliferation of WMD spread of nuclear,
    chemical, and biological weapons to countries
    divided by profound political differences, f.ex.
    Pakistan and India

  • WMD may spread into rogue states (Iran, North
    Korea) and non-state actors, such as global
    terrorist networks
  • Collapse of states spread of socio-political
    disorder in selected regions
  • Global spread of disease rapid spread of
    pathogens that threaten humans, livestock, and
    plant life and the threat of new pandemics such
    as the avian influenza
  • Growing North-South wealth discrepancies rising
    disparities in wealth between winners and losers
    in the course of globalization
  • Threats to the LIEO established by the West
    after WWII, responsible for much of western
    wealth and prosperity, by increasing trade
    demands from poorer countries
  • Resistance by the U.S. to work with international
    and multilateral organizations global threats
    cannot be managed unilaterally

Core Principles
  • IR revolves around one key problem
  • How can a group such as two or more states
    serve its collective interests when doing so
    requires its members to forego their national
  • Example Problem of global warning. Solving it
    can only be achieved by many countries acting
  • Collective goods problem
  • The problem of how to provide something that
    benefits all members of a group regardless of
    what each member contributes to it

Core Principles
  • In general, collective goods are easier to
    provide in small groups than large ones.
  • Small group defection (free riding) is harder to
    conceal and has a greater impact on the overall
    collective good, and is easier to punish.
  • Collective goods problem occurs in all groups and
    societies but within a state, govts provide
    public or collective goods.
  • Particularly acute in international affairs
  • No central authority such as a world government
    to enforce on individual nations the necessary
    measures to provide for the common good

Core Principles
  • Three basic principles offer possible solutions
    for this core problem of getting individuals to
    cooperate for the common good without a central
    authority to make them do so.
  • Dominance
  • Reciprocity
  • Identity

Table 1.1
  • Solves the collective goods problem by
    establishing a power hierarchy in which those at
    the top control those below
  • Status hierarchy
  • Symbolic acts of submission and dominance
    reinforce the hierarchy.
  • Hegemon
  • The advantage of the dominance solution
  • Forces members of a group to contribute to the
    common good
  • Minimizes open conflict within the group
  • Disadvantage of the dominance solution
  • Stability comes at a cost of constant oppression
    of, and resentment by, the lower-ranking members
    of the status hierarchy.
  • Conflicts over position can sometimes harm the
    groups stability and well-being.

  • Solves the collective goods problem by rewarding
    behavior that contributes to the group and
    punishing behavior that pursues self-interest at
    the cost of the group
  • Easy to understand and can be enforced without
    any central authority
  • Positive and negative reciprocity
  • Disadvantage It can lead to a downward spiral as
    each side punishes what it believes to be the
    negative acts of the other.
  • Generally people overestimate their own good
    intentions and underestimate those of opponents
    or rivals.

  • Identity principle does not rely on
  • Members of an identity community care about the
    interests of others in the community enough to
    sacrifice their own interests to benefit others.
  • Family, extended family, kinship group roots,
    clan, nation, religious and ethnic groups
  • In IR, identity communities play important roles
    in overcoming difficult collective goods
    problems while at times identity construction
    can intensify the collective goods problem
  • Nonstate actors also rely on identity politics.

IR as a Field of Study
  • Practical discipline
  • Theoretical debates are fundamental
  • IR is about international politics, but the field
    is interdisciplinary economics, history,
    sociology, anthropology, geography etc.
  • Usually taught within discipline of political
  • Domestic politics of foreign countries, although
    overlapping with IR, generally make up the
    separate field of comparative politics.
  • Issue areas political, economic, environmental,
  • Conflict and Cooperation
  • Subfields
  • International security
  • International political economy

Actors and Influences
  • Principal actors in IR are states
  • IR scholars traditionally study the decisions and
    acts of those governments, in relation to other
  • Individual actors Leaders and citizens,
    bureaucratic agencies in foreign ministries,
    multinational corporations, and terrorist groups

State Actors
  • Most important actors in IR are states.
  • State A territorial entity controlled by a
    government and inhabited by a population.
  • Theoretical assumptions
  • State government exercises sovereignty over its
  • Recognized as sovereign by other states
  • Population forms a civil society group identity
  • Seat of government with a leader head of
    government or head of state

State Actors
  • International system
  • Set of relationships among the worlds states,
    structured according to certain rules and
    patterns of interaction.
  • Modern international system has existed for less
    than 500 years.
  • Origin in Treaty of Westphalia 1648
  • Nation-states
  • Major source of conflict Frequent mismatch
    between perceived nations and actual borders.
  • Populations vary dramatically.
  • Great variation in terms of the size of states
    total annual economic activity
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • Great powers
  • Most powerful of these states are called

Figure 1.2
Figure 1.1
Table 1.4