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.

Theory Concept: Realism and Neorealism

Theory concept: Realism and neorealism

1. Core Questions Addressed

  • What are the fundamental assumptions of realism?
  • What are the main differences between classical realism and neorealism?
  • What are the main assumptions of neorealism with regard to the stability of the international system?

2. Overview and Background

Realism entered academic International Relations in the period between the late 1930s and the early 1940s, mostly as a theoretical answer to the liberal or ‘idealist’ tradition that dominated the discourse about world politics since the end of the First World War (→ Theory Concept: Liberalism and Neoliberalism). Realism accused liberalism of ignoring the fundamental question of (→) power in world politics while at the same time overestimating the capacity of humans and states to progress through learning and increased ...

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