Prefatory of International Relation Theories

By : Muhammad Choirul RosiqinInternational Relations Student @University of Muhammadiyah Malang

I guess you’re International Relations student, aren’t you? Most of you…maybe. If not, you’re interested to know International Relations subject. One of them, yeah it is. Theory of International Relations. Here, what material that I got in IR class.

To see the world is much of misunderstanding, difficult to see the “real” reality of (the world) activity. So, study about IR theories is not only able to implemented the theory of IR, but predicted what will be happening in IR (explanatory and predict certainly).

“Jika Anda lemah memahami teori, maka Anda akan kesulitan (kendala) mendalami ilmu HI”.

“You’re talking “nothing”, whom you’re speak with abstract source and opinion”.

A (Theory) may the object (reality) is the same, but the understanding is different. Do you now that, there’s no real assumption in Social Science. “Benar atau salah dalam ilmu sosial itu menjadi sesuatu yang relatif.”internationsl-politics

  • Theory’s function are to identify, to formulate, to refine, and to question the general assumption “in discussion”

Disela pembahasan Dosen pengampu mata kuliah ini, berkata “Mimpi secara rasional dan terukur, insyaAllah akan terwujud”. Hiduplah di dunia mimpi saja, jika Anda selalu berfikir Utopis.

Classic Balance of Power → Collective Security (International Institution: Leage of Nations).

Scott Burchill And Andrew Linklater – Resume of An Introduction, Chapter One of Theories of International Relations Book (Third edition); [Scott Burchill, Andrew Linklater, Richard Devetak, Jack Donnelly, Matthew Paterson, Christian Reus-Smit and Jacqui True].

Frameworks of analysis

The study of international relations began as a theoretical discipline. Two of the foundational texts in the field, E. H. Carr’s, The Twenty Years’ Crisis (first published in 1939) and Hans Morgenthau’s Politics Among Nations (first published in 1948) were works of theory in three central respects.

Not that Morgenthau and Carr thought the international political system was condemned for all time to revolve around the relentless struggle for power and security.

Many scholars, particularly in United States in the 1960s, believed that Morgenthau’s theoretical framework was too impressionistic in nature.

The scientific turn led to a major disciplinary debate in the 1960s in which scholars such as Hedley Bull (1966b) argued that international politics were not susceptible to scientific enquiry.

The radical scholar, Noam Chomsky (1994: 120) has claimed that in international
relations ‘historical conditions are too varied and complex for anything that might plausibly be called “a theory” to apply uniformly’ (1994: 120). What is generally know as ‘post-positivism’ in International Relations rejects the possibility of a science of international relations which uses standards of proof associated with the physical sciences to develop equivalent levels of explanatory precision and predictive certainty (Smith, Booth and Zalewski 1996).

The debate centred on whether theories – even those that aim for objectivity – are ultimately ‘political’
because they generate views of the world which favour some political interests and disadvantage others.

What, in consequence, is it to speak of a ‘theory of international politics?

Diversity of theory

Positivist or ‘scientific’ approaches remain crucial, and are indeed dominant in the United States, as the success of rational choice analysis demonstrates.

They believe it is just as important to focus on how we 2 Introduction approach the study of world politics as it is to try to explain global phenomena.

Steve Smith (1995: 26–7) has argued that there is a fundamental division within the discipline ‘between theories which seek to offer explanatory (our emphasis) accounts of International Relations’ and perspectives which regard ‘theory as constitutive (our emphasis) of that reality’.

The enterprise of theoretical investigation is at its minimum one directed towards criticism: towards identifying, formulating, refining, and questioning the general assumptions on which the everyday discussion of international politics proceeds.

Smith (1996: 113) argues that all theories do this whether intentionally or unintentionally: they ‘do not simply explain or predict, they tell us what possibilities exist for human action and intervention; they define not merely our explanatory possibilities, but also our ethical and practical horizons’.

Smith questions what he sees as the false assumption that ‘theory’ stands in opposition to ‘reality’ – conversely that ‘theory’ can be tested against a ‘reality’ which is already ‘out there’ (see also George 1994).

International Relations is a discipline of theoretical disagreements – a ‘divided discipline’, as Holsti (1985) called it.

Contested nature

  1. What should the discipline aim to study: Relations between states?
  2. Growing transnational economic ties, as recommended by early twentieth-century liberals?
  3. Increasing international interdependence, as advocated in the 1970s?
  4. The global system of dominance and dependence, as claimed by Marxists and neo-Marxists from the 1970s?
  5. Globalization, as scholars have argued in more recent times?
  6. Should international political phenomena be studied: by using empirical data to identify laws and patterns of international relations?
  7. By using historical evidence to understand what is unique (Bull 1966a) or to identify some traditions of thought which have survived for centuries (Wight 1991)?
  8. By using Marxist approaches to production, class and material inequalities?
  9. By emulating, as Waltz (1979) does, the study of the market behaviour of firms to understand systemic forces which make all states behave in much the same way?
  10. By claiming, as Wendt (1999) does in his defence of constructivism, that in the study of international relations it is important to understand that ‘it is ideas all the way down?’

In the remainder of this introductory chapter we will examine these and other issues under the following headings:

  • The foundation of the discipline of International Relations
  • Theories and disciplines Scott Burchill and Andrew Linklater 5
  • Explanatory and constitutive theory
  • What do theories of international relations differ about?
  • What criteria exist for evaluating theories?

One of our aims is to explain the proliferation of theories since the 1980s, to analyse their different ‘styles’ and methods of proceeding and to comment on a recurrent problem in the field which is that theorists often appear to ‘talk past’ each other rather than engage in productive dialogue. Another aim is to identify ways in which meaningful comparisons between different perspectives of International Relations can be made.

The foundation of International Relations

The formal recognition of a separate discipline of International Relations is usually thought to have occurred at the end of the First World War with the establishment of a Chair of International Relations at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.

Its subject matter was shared by a number of older disciplines, including law, philosophy, economics, politics and diplomatic history – but before 1919 the subject was not studied with the great sense of urgency which was the product of the First World War.

The war shook the confidence of those who had invested their faith in classical diplomacy and who thought the use of force was necessary at times to maintain the balance of power.

117183In the aftermath of the war, a new academic discipline was thought essential, one devoted to understanding and preventing international conflict.

Those are the resume that I cite from the book, actually this is not the end of the writing in chapter one of the book or not complete. Because I don’t want you get the instant information about this subject and do not get the main idea of the writer, so I suggest you to read the complete information or get this subject more in the book of International Relations Theories (third edition). Hopefully you’ll enjoy the book 🙂.

Oh ya, if you really interested to learn this subject you may follow my class @University of Muhammadiyah Malang, Indonesia. Feel free to chat/tell me via Facebook ( if you wanted.


About Muhammad Choirul Rosiqin

I was born in Eastern Probolinggo, East Java, in 1994. I'm student of International Relations @University of Muhammadiyah Malang
This entry was posted in Teori Hubungan Internasional and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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