Our world is large and complex. International relations is a fascinating topic because it concerns peoples and cultures throughout the world. The scope and complexity of the in teractions among these groups make international relations a challenging subject to master. There is always more to learn. This book is only the beginning of the story. Strictly defined, the field of international relations (IR) concerns the relationships among the world`s goverments. But these relationships cannot be understood in isolation.
They as closely connected with other actors (such as international organizations. multinational corporations, and indiciduals); with other social structures (including economics, culture, and demostic politics); and with geographical and historical influences . IR is a large subject that overlaps several other fields. The purpose of this book is to Introduce the field of IR, to organize what os known and theorized about IR, and to convey the key concepts used by political scientists to discuss realtions among nations.
This first chapter defines IR as a field of study, introduces the actors of interest, and reviews the geographical and historical contexts within which IR occurs. Chapter 1 REFLECTIONS OF WAR In turn, IR profoundly affects the daily lives of colleg students and other citizens. The prospects for getting jobs after graduation depend on the global economy and iternational economic competition. Those jobs also are more likely that ever to entail international travels, sales, or communication. And the rules of the world trading system affect the goods that students consume.
from electronics to clothes to gasoline. Although international economics pervades daily life, war dominates daily life only infrequetly. Still, war casts a long shadow. In major wars, students and their friends and family go off to war and their lifes change irreversibly. But even in peacetime, war is among the most pervasive international influences in daily life. Children play with war toys; young people go into, military sevice ; TV ad films reproduce and multiply the images of war; and wars disrupt economic and social life. As technology advances, the worlds is shrinking year by year.
Better communication and transportation capabilities are constantly espanding the ordinary person`s contact with people, products, and ideas from other countries IR as a Field of Study As a field of study, IR has uncertain boundaries. As a part of political science, IR is about International politics the decisions of governments concerning their actions toward other goverments. To some extent, however, the feild is interdisciplinary, relating international political to economics, history, sociology, and other disciplines. Some universities offer separate degrees pr departments for IR.
Most, however, teach IR in political sciense classes. The focus is on the politics of environmantel management. Political relations among national cover nations cover a range of activities diplomacy, war, trade relations, alliances, cultural exchanges, participation in international organizational. and so forth. Particular activities within one of these spheres make up distinct issue areas on which scholars and foriegn policy makers focus attention. Examples of issue areas include global trade, the environment, or specific conflicts such as the India-Pakistan and Arab – Israeli conflicts.
Within each issue area and across the range of issue of concern on any intenational relationship, policy makers of one nation can behave in a cooperrative manner or a confloctual manner- extending either friendly or hostile behavior toward the other nation. IR scholars often look at international relations on terms of the mix of conflict and cooperation in relationships among nations One kind of politics that has an international character is not generally included in the field of IR : the domestic politics of foreign countries.
That is a separate field of political science called comparative politics. Comparative politics overlaps with IR to the considerable extent that domestic poitics influence foreign policy in many countries. Futhermore, the scholars who know about IR and foreign policies in a certain country or foreign often are the same people who know the most about demostic politics within that country or region. Despite these overlaps. IR as a field tends to avoid issues the concern demostic politics in the United States or the other countries except to the extent that they affect international politics.
The scope of the field of IR may also be defined by the subfields it encompasses. Traditionally, the study of IR has focused on questions of war and peace-the subfield of international security studies. The movemtents of armies and of diplomats, the crafting od treaties and alliances, the development and deployment of military capabilities- these are the subjects that dominated the study of IR in the past, especially in the 1950s and 1960s and the continue to hold central position in the field. In the 1990s, after te Cold War.the subfield of security studies broudened beyond its traditional focus on military forces and the superpower arms race.
Regional conflicts and ethnic violence began to receive more attention. Meanwhile, interdusciplinary peace studies programs. which emerged in the 1980s at many universities, sought to broaden concepts of “security” further- as did feminist scholars. While the study of war, weapons, and military forces continues to be the core concern of intenational security studies, these trends have expanded the boundaries of the subfield In the 1970s and 1980s, as economics became increasingly central to international relations, the subfield of international political economy (IPE) grew and became the counterpoint to international security studiens as a second mean subfield of IR.
Scholars of IPE study trade relations and financial relations among nations, and try to understand how nations have cooperated politically to create and maintain institutions that regulate the flow of international economic and financial transactions.
These topics, mainly relaty to relations among the world`s richer nations between rich and poor nations, including such topics as economics dependency, debt, foreign aid, and technology transfer. As the East-West confrontation of the cold war has receded into history, North-South problems have become more salient. So are problems of international environmental management and of global telecommunictions. The subfield of IPE us expanding accordingly. Of course, different professors see the scope and structure of the field of IR in different ways.
The same principles and theories that help us understand international security (discussed in the first half of this book) also help us understand IPE (discussed in the second half). Econics is importand in security affiairs, and vice versa. The organization of this book many seem to create a divide between the two subfield, but in reality they are interwoven Chapter 1 Theories and Methods IR scholars want to understand why international events occurs in the way they do. Why did a certain was break out ? Why do some states sign trade agreements while others do not ? Why are some countries so much richer than others?
These “why” questions can be answered in several ways. One kind of answer results from tracing the immediate, short-term sequences of events and desision made by a particular forces and actors operate to bring about a particular outcome. Another kind of answer results from seeking general explanations and longer-term, more indirect causes. For examples, a war outbreak might be seen as an instance of a general pattern in which arms races lead to war. This kind of answer is theoretical because it places the particular event in the context of a more general pattern applicable across many cases.
Understanding IR requires both descriptive and theoretical knowledge. It would do little good only to describe events without being able to generalize or draw lessons from them. Nor would it do much good to formulate purely abstract theories without being able to apply them to the complex world in which we live Different IR scholars emphasize different mixes of descriptive and theoretical work. Like other disciplines, IR includes both basic and applied research. Generally, scholars closer to the policy process are most interested in descriptive and short- term expamations that are useful for, managing a particular issue area or region.
Other scholars tend to be interested in more abstract, general, and longer-term explanations. Ultimately, IR is a rather practical desciline. There is a close connection between scholars in colleges, Universities, and think tanks and the policy-making community working in the goverment ( for instance, Professor Condoleezza Rice became President Bush`s National Security Advisor In 2001 and Secretary of State in 2005), and sometimes professors publicize theis ideas in practice.
Diplomats, bureaucrats, and politicians can benefit from both the descriptive and the theoretical knowledge produced by IR scholars. The methods used in developing and testing various theories can be arrayed roughly along an empirical versus theoretical axis. at one end, many scholars seek knowledge abour IR by interviewing versus theoretical axis. At one end, many scholars seek knowledge about IR by interviewing people in various places and piecing together thier stories (or thier memoirs, archival documents, etc.)- a method well suited to descriptive expanation or to induction (building theories from facts).
At the other end, some researchers create abstract mathematical models of relationships that are all theory with no real grounding in the empirical reality og internatioanl politics- a method suited to deduction ( predicting facts from a theory). Between these approaches are other that mix theory and empirical evidence in varios ways. Many IR scholars try to make quantitative measurements of things such as internatioanl among those variables.
All of these methods of learning about IR can be useful in defferent ways, thought they yield different kinds of knowledge. IR is an unprecictable realm od turbulent processes and events that catch the experts by surprise, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Most IR scholars are modest about their ability to make accurate predictions- and with good reason. The best theories provide only a rough guide to understanding what actually occurs in IR or to predicting what will happen next.