International Relations Theory

ST-A26-25-62  29 October 1962  Executive Committee of the National Security Council meeting.

ST-A26-25-62 29 October 1962 Executive Committee of the National Security Council meeting.

International Relations Theory

In order to understand International Relations, Foreign Affairs, International Studies, or any other discipline for that matter, one needs to be well versed in the different theories, and in this case, what sorts of theories exist to help us understand how the international system works. Theories help us try to understand general patterns, in this case, about human political interactions. In the field of international relations, theories can help us understand human behavior, human nature, and in turn how humans interact with other humans.

Scholars in the field of international relations have developed a number of theories that can help understand the questions in the discipline. In these pages, the various outlooks of how the world is believed to work is broken down, and the assumptions and core beliefs within each framework are examined in great detail. We will summarize each of the theories, explain the nuances within the theoretical frameworks, as well as introduce criticisms levied at these ways of thinking, along with responses by those who have defended the particular theory. We will cover some of the “main” theories in the field such as Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, Feminism, and Economic Dependency Theory, as well as other “newer” theories in international relations.

In addition, we will continue to include several links to various books and articles related to each of the theories. These links will be useful to those who are looking for further reading on particular theories. Many of these books are classics in the field–and often required reading for graduate courses in international relations, whereas others are newer yet equally valuable contributions to better understanding international relations theory. We hope that this database of reading will provide the reader with more than enough material to understand international relations theory.

Here are some core textbooks on the issue international relations theory.

Paul Viotti & Mark Kauppi: International Relations Theory

Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, & Steve Smith: International Relations Theories

Scott Burchill: Theories of International Relations

Joyce P. Kaufman

Michael Doyle: Ways of War and Peace: Realism, Liberalism, and Socialism

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