Political Science 260: Introduction to International Relations
Chapter One Vocabulary
: the main actor in IR, sometimes referred to as a country or a nation-state.
The term is used in
reference to both the populated territory of the state and the political body that governs that territory.
state is a territory-based sociopolitical organization entrusted with the responsibility of defending basic
social conditions and values, including security, freedom, order, justice and welfare.
Because of their role
as protectors of security, states have a monopoly on the authority and power to engage in war.
states differ in their level of success in defending the aforementioned values, the state is understood to
have legal jurisdiction (sovereignty) over its own affairs and population.
In popular view, the Peace of
Westphalia (1648), following the Thirty Years War, marked the formal beginning of the modern sovereign
state and modern international relations.
: an important paradox inherent in the state system.
A fundamental reason for the
existence of states is to provide their citizens with security from internal and external threats; however, the
existence of these armed states threatens the very security they are expected to maintain.
: the politics employed and the actions undertaken by a state to counter real or potential
internal and external threats and to ensure the safety of its citizens.
This is one of the fundamental
responsibilities of the state to its people, and the fundamental state responsibility according to the realist
view of IR. Before the advent of the state and the state system, security was provided by family, clan,
warlord, or another locally based entity; this responsibility, among others, was gradually transferred to the
: in IR, a concept referring to a state’s power relative to that of other states.
A state may be
considered a hegemon if it is so powerful economically and militarily that it is a dominant influence on the
domestic and foreign policies of other states. Depending on its level of power, a state may be a regional
hegemon (e.g. Germany immediately prior to and during the Second World War) or a global hegemon
(e.g. many agree, the United States in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.)
: the projection of power by a political entity for the purpose of territorial expansion and
political and economic influence beyond its formal borders.
Much of history has been marked by the
expansion and demise of empires: the Roman Empire, the Mongol Empire, the British Empire, and the
Ottoman Empire, to name but a few.
After WWII, the last of the great empires were dissolved.