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.



1. Core Questions Addressed

  • What are the different forms of power in international relations?
  • What is the role of power in analysis of international relations?
  • Is there a shift in the predominant forms of power in international relations?

2. Definitions

Power is one of the central, if not the most central, concept in International Relations. Yet despite, or perhaps exactly because of, its centrality, its meaning remains contested. Excluded in what follows is the notion of power as an actor, in the sense of ‘great power’ or ‘superpower’. This still leaves a wide array of definitions.

A first distinction is between the concept of power as capabilities and power as a relationship (see Baldwin 2002: 185). If power is used as a relational concept, it signifies a situation in which ...

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