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Neorealism_Neoliberalism

Neorealism_Neoliberalism - Introduction to IR(POL208...

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Introduction to IR (POL208), May 31, 2004 University of Toronto NEOREALISM (STRUCTURAL REALISM) Kenneth Waltz (Theory of International Politics, 1979): Pioneer of Neorealism Became quite popular among IR theories in the 1980s. Neorealism has lost some of its appeal following the end of the Cold War. Yet, today there are still many devotees of Neorealism among IR scholars. Neorealism builds on classical realism. It accepts the following central assumptions of Realism: -The international system is anarchic (absence of legitimate world government) Dog-eat-dog environment. -States are primary actors, acting according to the principle of self-help and seeking to ensure their own survival. -All states within the system are unitary, rational actors. Neorealism ignores what kind of regimes are in power in states, what kind of ideologies prevail, what kind of leadership is provided. States are like billiard balls, obeying the same laws of political geometry and physics → What is going inside states is not important. Similar to Realists, Neorealists contend that domestic politics do not really matter. 1
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Differences between Realism and Neorealism : What is “neo” about Neorealism? Neorealism differs from classical realism on one basic point: Classical Realists emphasize the fearful and conflictual nature of humankind. Starting point of Neorealists is not the nature of human nature. For Neorealists, the quest for power is not considered an end in itself, as in Realism; nor does power derive from human nature. Instead, states always pursue power as a means of survival. Specifically, the problem is found in the anarchic nature of the international system. Neorealists believe that the struggle for power is the result of the structure of the international system as a whole rather than a fundament of human nature. Neorealists focus on the structure of the international system to account for the behavior of states. “International structure emerges from the interaction of states and then constrains them from taking certain actions while propelling them towards others.” (Waltz) State differently, it is the structure that shapes the political relationships among states. Hence “Structural Realism.” Neorealism has as its focus the international system . Neorealism is a system-level theory . (System-level theory: Analytical approach to world politics that emphasizes the impact of worldwide conditions on the behavior of states, nonstate actors and other international actors. Explanations at the global system level are sufficient to account for the main trends in world politics.) Proposition #1: According to Neorealists, what is different among states is their capabilities . Capabilities define the position of states in the system, and the distribution of capabilities defines the structure of the system and shapes the ways the units (states) interact with one another.
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