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PSC 204 Week 1 Notes

by: Victoria Miller

PSC 204 Week 1 Notes PSC 204

Victoria Miller
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About this Document

These notes cover what we went over in class from 8/23-8/25
International Relations
Class Notes
political science, international relations




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This 3 page Class Notes was uploaded by Victoria Miller on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 204 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Rickert in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 28 views. For similar materials see International Relations in Political Science at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.


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Date Created: 08/31/16
IR Week 1 8/23  Key Theories of International Relations o Realism o Liberalism o Constructivism o Marxism  Realism o States are primary actors in an anarchic global system. Realists don’t consider domestic actors, but states are primary level of analysis o States seek power to enhance security, act out self-interests  Survival is state’s ultimate goal o Power defined as resources a state has to harm/coerce other states o Security is of upmost importance  Darwinistic environment where survival is key o Interactions among states are usually a zero-sum game:  One state’s gain comes at another’s loss o Weak international institutions reflect the interests of dominant states  United Nations, World Trade Organization, etc. o War is common, but can be prevented by balance of power considerations o Cooperation is possible between states, but always full of mistrust  Temporary alliances foster security o Key Realist Theorists:  Machiavelli  Thomas Hobbes  Henry Kissinger  Kenneth Waltz  James Baker o Examples:  Russia invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea  reassert power o Realism is concerned with what IS, not what SHOULD BE o Neorealism/Structural Realism  Realism modified in 1950s by Kenneth Waltz  Focused on the anarchic nature of the global system. States never know the intentions of their neighbors  How do we have peace?  Balance of power o How useful is realism in explaining current international relations?  Doesn’t pay attention to non-state actors o Logic  Because of an anarchic global system  States are on their own o State actions are explained by interests. Powerful states may expand and take over smaller ones, thus increasing power  To survive, states must be powerful. By attaining power, a state maximizes its chances of survival  Above all, survival is key  Liberalism o An Enlightenment philosophy, assuming logic and reason can solve man’s problems o Liberals see state interests coming from groups within states  Individuals, firms, organizations and interest groups as well as the state itself and other states o Government/state interests come from the interaction of these groups within the state o Liberals see wealth maximization as a key goal for actors (states and individuals) o Greater emphasis on cooperation among states to maximize interests, mainly through trade o Trade stabilizes international relations and war unprofitable  States lose revenue going to war o Conflict arises when actors fail to recognize common interests o Institutions (domestic and international) help promote these common interests o Democracy allows the interests of the people to be promoted  Emmanuel Kant o International institutions solve problems between states, enhancing cooperation o Wealth creation benefits many groups that realists ignore o Liberal philosophers:  John Locke  Emmanuel Kant  Adam Smith  David Ricardo o Democratic Peace Theory  Democracies don’t go to war with each other  Constructivism o Newer, has roots in critical theory and sociology o Emphasizes the roll that institutions play with in the world o What people want is a reflection of their culture, their identity, and their ideas o Global sandbox analogy o Fire in a theatre analogy o Titanic analogy – women and children first o Groups that share commonalities are less likely to experience conflict with one another  Marxism o Critique of the capitalist system and focuses on history of class struggle o Individual’s actions are determined by class interests o View the state as agents of global capitalism and act on behalf of the bourgeoisie o Focuses on how things SHOULD BE, not how they are o Wars are fought because of capitalist greed, haves vs. have nots  Capitalist states are also looking for access to markets o Point to current global institutions and argue they exist to exploit poor regions by providing loans at full interest. This traps poor states into cycles of debt and dependency on the wealthier states  Terms to know o Sovereignty  Ultimate political authority within set territorial boundaries o Anarchy  Absence of a central authority o Hegemony  The predominance of one country over another


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