International Relations is a vibrant field of significant growth and change. This book guides students through the complexities of over 40 central concepts and core theories, relating them at all times to contemporary issues and debates.

Each concept is divided into five sections to allow rapid familiarization with the topic and provide signposts for further exploration:

Core questions to address; Definition; Theoretical perspectives; Empirical problems; Core reading and useful websites

In addition the major theories are covered by six-part entries that give a 360 degree view of the strengths, weaknesses, applications and methodologies of each one:

An introduction to the core questions; Overview and background; Methodologies; Empirical application; Central criticism; Core reading and useful websites

Clear and highly readable, Key Concepts in International Relations is an essential guide for students on politics and international relations courses.

Balance of Power

Balance of power

1. Core Questions Addressed

  • Why do states balance?
  • What are the varieties of balancing behaviour in international politics?
  • What is the difference between a realist and a neorealist conception of the balance of power?

2. Definitions

The balance of power is among the most persistent and most widely cited concepts in International Relations. It is essentially about the idea that hegemonic (→ Hegemony) (→) power will always be counterbalanced by a strategic alliance of rivals in order to secure their own survival and (→) sovereignty. Whether the concept goes back to theoretical assumptions made with regard to Italian city-states in the Machiavellian time, or whether it has ancient roots in the considerations of Hellenic and Roman politicians during the Peloponnesian and Punic Wars, is contested ...

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