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International Relations Theories and Concepts
Terms in this set (66)
Anarchical international system
The traditional structure of world politics in which there is no is no central authority to set and enforce rules and resolve disputes. There are rules but they are informal and that is why international law, intergovernmental organizations and the international system are described as a 'self-help system" Participation is voluntary not compulsory.
A subdivision of liberal thought that is optimistic about human nature and believes that people can achieve more collectively than individually, that people understand this, and therefore given the opportunity, people will seek to work together in their common, long-term interests.
A subdivision of realist thought that believes that the root cause of conflict is the aggressive nature of humans.
The view that the course of international relations is an interactive process in which the ideas of and communications among "agents" (or actors: individuals, groups, and social structures, including states) serve to create "structures" (treaties, laws, international organizations, and other aspects of the international system), which, in turn influence the ideas and communications of the agents.
Is the selection of specific policies directly by voters, rather than by elected representatives.
The belief that international economic relations should and can be conducted cooperatively because the international economy is a non-zero-sum game in which prosperity is available to all.
The belief that the state should use its economic strength to further national interests, and that a state should use its power to build its economic strength.
The view that women have been suppressed and ignored in both politics and political scholarship and have had to strive to achieve greater equality.
International Government Organization (IGO)
International/transnational actors that are composed of member-countries and formed by treaties between two or more states.
International investment capital
The flow of money in and out of a country to buy companies, stocks, bonds, real estate, and other assets.
The merger of international and domestic concerns and decisions.
The view that people and the countries that represent them are capable of ﬁnding mutual interests and cooperating to achieve them, by forming ties between countries and also by working together for the common good through international organizations and according to international law. See Classic liberalism and Neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism The view that conflict and other ills that result from the anarchical international system can be eased by building global and regional organizations and processes that will allow people, groups, countries, and other international actors to cooperate for their mutual benefit.
Neorealism The view that the self-interested struggle for power among countries is caused by the anarchical nature of the international system, which leaves each state solely responsible for its safety and welfare and forces each state to pursue its interests in competition with other states.
Nongovernmental Organization (NGO)
Nongovernmental Organization (NGO) International (transnational), nongovernmental (not a part of the state) organizations with private memberships. There are local NGOs (LNGOs) and international NGOs (INGOs)
A contest in which gains by one or more players can be achieved without offsetting losses for any other player or players. See Zero-sum game.
An idea or connected set of ideas about why things happen and how events related to one another.
Postmodernism This theory holds that reality does not exist as such. Rather, reality is created by how we think and our discourse (writing, talking). As applied to world politics, postmodernism is the belief that we have become trapped by stale ways of conceiving of how we organize and conduct ourselves. Postmodernists wish, therefore, to "deconstruct" discourse.
The most essential characteristic of a state. The term strongly implies political independence from any higher authority and also suggests at least theoretical equality.
State A political actor that has sovereignty and a number of characteristics, including territory, population, organization (political and economic), domestic support and recognition.
Zero-Sum Game A contest in which gains by one player can only be achieved by equal losses for other players. A non-zero-sum game is a situation in which one or more players, even all players, can gain without offsetting losses for any other player or players.
Anarchical political system
An anarchical system is one in which there is no central authority to make rules, to enforce rules, or to resolve disputes about the actors in the political system. Many people believe that a system without central authority is inevitably one either of chaos or one in which the powerful prey on the weak. There is, however, an anarchist political philosophy that contends that the natural tendency of people to cooperate has been corrupted by artificial political, economic, or social institutions. Therefore, anarchists believe that the end of these institutions will lead to a cooperative society. Marxism, insofar as it foresees the collapse of the state once capitalism is destroyed and workers live in proletariat harmony, has elements of anarchism.
A policy advocated by the British and French toward the Germans following World War I. The hope was to maintain peace by allowing Hitler to annex the Sudetenland part of Czechoslovakia.
A strategy by which a national military or other armed force, including a terrorists organi¬zation, that is relatively small and lightly equipped attacks a militarily stronger opponent by using unconventional means, such as terrorism, or with limited unconventional weapons, such as nuclear explosives and material, biological agents, or chemical weapons.
Balance of power
A concept that describes the degree of equilibrium (balance) or disequilibrium (imbalance) of power in the global or regional system.
A world political system in which two international ac¬tors primarily hold power.
The confrontation that emerged following World War II between the bipolar superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. Although no direct conflict took place between these countries, it was an era of great ten¬sions and global division.
U.S. policy that sought to contain communism, during the cold war.
A cold war policy involving the United States, the Soviet Union, and China, which sought to open relations among the countries and ease tensions.
A term used to describe the ideological di¬vision between hemispheres following World War II. The East was associated with communism, while the West was associated with democracy.
The close interrelationship and mutual dependence of two or more domestic economies on each other.
Economically developed countries (EDCs)
Industrialized countries, which are mainly found in the Northern Hemi¬sphere.
An ethnic group in which a sig¬nificant percentage of its members favor national self-determination and the establishment of a nation-state dominated by the group.
A term to distinguish the whites of Europe and of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, and other countries, whose cultures were founded on or con¬verted to European culture, from other races and ethnic groups, including Caucasian peoples in Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere.
A political system of the Middle Ages that was based on the local, microlevel of authority. Organized around principalities, dukedoms, baronies, and other fiefdoms in which the local nobles ruled and exercised near complete sovereignty over them. In theory the nobles were subservient to the king but generally acted autonomously and played a more direct role in the average peasant's life.
A multifaceted concept that represents the increasing integration of economics, politics, communications, and culture across national boundaries.
Gross national product (GNP)
A measure of all goods and services produced by a country's nationals, whether they are in the country or abroad.
A single country or alliance that is so dominant in the international system that it plays the key role in determining the rules and norms by which the system operates. As the dominant power in the system, it has a central position in both making and enforcing the norms and modes of behavior. Hegemon is a synonym for a hegemonic power.
Holy Roman Empire
The time in history when the Roman Catholic Church was recognized as a universalistic authority. Provided a common language among intellectuals keeping Latin alive, with Christian doctrine underlay the developing concepts of rights, justice, and other political norms. Kings were in theory subservient to the Pope when Pope Leo III Charlemagne "Empire of the Romans" in 800, which established the idea of a new Christian-Roman state.
A term synonymous with colonization, meaning domination by Northern Eurowhites over Southern nonwhites as a means to tap resources to further their own development.
The development of mechanical and industrial production of goods that began in Great Britain in the mid-1700s and then spread through Europe and North America.
An abstract concept that encom¬passes global actors, the interactions (especially patterns of interaction) among those actors, and the factors that cause those interactions. The international system is the largest of a vast number of overlapping political systems that ex¬tend downward in size to micropolitical systems at the local level.
Less developed countries (LDCs)
Countries, located mainly in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, with economies that rely heavily on the production of agriculture and raw materials and whose per capita GNP and standard of living are substantially below Western standards.
This concept describes the merging of states into an integrated world. Benjamin Barber coined this term to describe how states are becoming more globalized, espe¬cially with the growth of economic interdependence.
A world political system in which three or more international ac¬tors primarily hold power.
A meeting between France, Germany, Great Britain, and Italy in 1938, during which France and Great Britain, unwilling to confront Hitler, acquiesced with Germany's decision to annex the Sudetenland (part of Czechoslovakia). This appeasement of Germany became synonymous with a lack of political will.
The belief that the nation is the ultimate ba¬sis of political loyalty and in every and all cases should be represented by a self-governing state.
Newly industrializing countries (NICs)
Less developed countries whose economies and trade now include signifi¬cant amounts of manufactured products. As a result, these countries have a per capita GNP significantly higher than the average per capita GNP for less developed countries.
Used to describe the wealthy and industrialized economically developed countries (EDCs) that lie mainly in the Northern Hemisphere.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Established in 1949, a regional alliance with Western Europe that was sponsored by the United States during the Cold War. A regional security agreement where an attack on one NATO member was an attack on all members. Was established to deter and oppose the Soviet Union.
A political doctrine that holds that sovereign political authority resides with the citizens of a state. According to this doctrine, the citizenry grant a cer¬tain amount of authority to the state, its government, and especially, its specific political leaders (such as monarchs, presidents, and prime ministers), but do not surrender ulti¬mate sovereignty.
An actor in the international system that has enough military, economic, and/or diplomatic strength to often have an important role in determining the rules and operation of the system. Power poles, or simply poles, have generally been either (1) a single country or empire or (2) a group of countries that constitute an alliance or bloc.
A period influenced by the Renaissance that began in 1517 when Martin Luther rejected the Catholic Church as the necessary intermediary between people and God. Instead Luther proclaimed the belief that anyone could have an individual relationship with God and within a few decades nearly a quarter of the people in Western Europe became Protestant. 37
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) A measure of the relative purchasing power of different currencies. It is measured by the price of the same goods in different countries, translated by the exchange rate of that country's currency against a "base currency," usually the U.S. dollar.
Operating according to the belief that politics is based on pursuit, possession, and application of power.
A period of cultural and intellectual rebirth and reform form about 1350-1650 A.D. was seen as a period that undermined the authority of the Church with concepts such as scientific inquiry and person freedom emerging.
he most essential characteristic of an
inter¬national state. The term strongly implies political indepen¬dence from any higher authority and also suggests at least theoretical equality.
Represents the less developed countries (LDCs), the majority of which are near or in the Southern Hemisphere.
A term used to describe the leader of a system pole in a bipolar system. During the cold war, the Soviet Union and the United States were each leaders of a bipolar system pole.
The ability to continue to im¬prove the quality of life of those in the industrialized countries and, particularly, those in the less developed countries while simultaneously protecting the Earth's bio¬sphere.
A common phrase during the cold war to describe developing countries.
Treaty of Westphalia
The treaty that ended the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648). The treaty signals the birth of the modern state system and the end of the theoretical sub¬ordination of the monarchies of Europe, especially those that had adopted Protestantism, to the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Empire. While the date of 1648 marked an important change, the state as a sovereign entity had begun to emerge earlier and continues to evolve.
A term used by scholar Benjamin Barber to de¬scribe the internal pressure on countries that can lead to their fragmentation and even to their collapse.
Weapons of Mass Destruction
A modern classification of weaponry that encompasses nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as well as ballistic missiles that is capable of carrying these weapons over long distances. The present day concern not only is the weapons themselves but also the increased proliferation (spread) of these weapons.
Historically, Europe and those countries and regions whose cultures were founded on or converted to European culture. Such countries would include Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States. The majority of the populations in these countries are also "white," in the Euro¬pean, not the larger Caucasian, sense. After World War II, the term West took on two somewhat different but related meanings. One referred to the countries allied with the United States and opposed to the Soviet Union and its allies, called the East. The West also came to mean the industrial democracies, including Japan.
Westernization of the international system
system of historical factors, including scientific and technological advances, contributed to the domination of the West over the interna¬tional system that was essentially created by the Treaty of Westphalia (1648).
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