Exploring Dynamics in International Relations

Does Structural Realism actually improve upon Classical Realism?

The fundamental principles of Classical Realism were propounded by Hans Morgenthau where as the core components of Classical Realism were established by Kenneth Waltz and John Mearsheimer. Brown (2009) has observed that Morgenthau had provided the assertion that the aim of such a theoretical construct is the infusion of order and meaning to the naturally occurring phenomena so that unintelligibility could be resolved. The emphasis had been on the factors of correlativity, cognitive aspects and coherence of attributes based on conjectural perspectives. The role of human nature in terms of interaction with the power politics based incumbent structure is reflective of the progression of Structural Realism on Classical Realism.


The point of divergence is highlighted through the observations of Morgenthau that both politics and human society are governed through objective legislative structures which emerge from the human nature which, in turn, is characterized by the ubiquity and ineradicable desire of power acquisition and this makes international politics the conduit of a broader power struggle. This primarily pessimistic and presumptuous perception, encompassing entire humanity, has been disputed by Structural Realism proponents in the form of outlining the structural architecture of the entire international political system which makes pursuit of power an imperative factor in human politics. The points of consideration in this context are mutual mistrust between different actors of international politics and the consequent security dilemma which emerges as an undeniable outcome.

Critically evaluate the ‘English School’ theory of international relations

Devlen and Ozdamar (2010) have stated that transformations in the interstate relations on the international realm have spawned consistent issues which have demonstrated the requirement of development of new approaches to foster better international relations through rational preferences. In this context, specific theorizing could be required to encompass effective and accurate evaluation of international relations from a holistic perspective. The theoretical construct, which is often overlooked, to this effect, is the English School theory of international relations. Through the core articulations, the English School Theory or the Society of States approach, attempted to combine the explanations of 2 differential theories such as Liberalism and Realism. This process involved a threefold approach to develop effective comprehension of global affairs. The initial approach consisted off International Systems approach based on Machiavellian principles regarding evaluation of international power politics between different states with specific emphasis on the concept of anarchy. This approach paralleled Structural Realism.

The second approach consisted of International Society concepts involving sharing of interests and dignity preservation of the states through formulation and sustaining of shared rules, institutions and norms. This approach parallels the regime theory in terms of constitutive and instrumental implications. The final approach is consisted off the Kantian theory of World Society which involves individuals and global populaces with specific emphasis on non-state institutions to focus on the global society based identity perspectives. This highlights the norms of Transnationalistic conceptual perceptions.

Are states still the main actors in international politics in 2020?

The relevance of states in the international political realm in 2020, according Brown (2018) could be perceived to be off significance still. The states are still the most relevant actors in terms of international diplomatic relationship management. Several points of significance have been listed by Brown (2018) concerning such an assertion. The first one is that international organisations, such as the UN, are consisted of nation states and these organisations dominate the global governance. The second one is the fact that international politics is of highest significance in terms of effective coordination between international relationships based safeguarding of global peace and successful conductance of different businesses in the global scenario. Only the nation states could perform such responsibilities effectively.

The third factor is the fact that in spite of the greater effort which is consistently invested by international organisations to prevent international conflicts such as wars, the onus is always on the nation states to play the most crucial roles in this context in terms of ensuring interrelationships, interdependencies and inter-advances. The requirement for the nation states is to consistently provide leadership in terms of coordination in the global circumstances to protect global peace so that common development could be promoted throughout the globe.

Is it time to broaden our definition of ‘security’, or time to narrow it?

Buzan (2008) has observed the limitations of conventional security discourses in terms of the nation state centric orientation of the same and the preponderance of reliability on military strength as a definitive solution to the challenges to security as well as an instrument of conducting state policy. For the proponents of the realist thesis, people could be affected by various threat dimensions which are divergent from that of the military spectrum such as economic, social, political and environmental. Buzan has promoted the perceptions that international systems, individuals and nation states, in a cumulative manner, play the roles in influencing security of the common folk. This approach has also highlighted the factor of five different dimensions which could define the security perspectives of human beings in a collective manner. These are the dimensions of military security (concerning dual levels of interplay between defensive and armed offensive policies of nation states), political security (involving the governance and administrative stability of various nation states), economic security (resource access and management as well as financial capabilities of the states), societal security (involving sustainability of various traditional cultural patterns such as religious, ethnicity based, custom based and linguistic lineages) and environmental security (involving planetary biosphere sustenance).

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Reference List

Brown, C., 2009. Structural realism, classical realism and human nature. International Relations, 23(2), pp.257-270.

Brown, S., 2018. The Anarchic Structure of the Nation-State System. In International Relations In A Changing Global System (pp. 15-26). Routledge.

Brown, S., 2018. International relations in a changing global system: toward a theory of the world polity. Routledge.

Buzan, B., 2008. People, states & fear: an agenda for international security studies in the post-cold war era. Ecpr Press.

Devlen, B. and Ozdamar, O., 2010. English School theory of international relations: Its origins, concepts, and debates. Uluslararasi Iliskiler, 7(25), pp.43-68.

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