What is theory, and why is it important?

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Fukuyamas belief that Western forms of government and political economy are the ultimate destination which the entire human race will eventually reach poses a number of challenges for orthodoxy in International Relations. 21 Fukuyamas assumptions have come up to criticism since 9/11 and the recent downturn in the world economy. However it is not my aim in this essay to argue against any theory but only to state them. Post Positivism Constructivism is the theory that challenges both realism and liberalism.

Marxism was the theory that had contested these but since the end of the cold war its stock has largely fallen and that is why I won’t go into it. Neorealism has been the dominant paradigm during Constructivism’s formative period, much of its theoretical work is in challenging basic neorealist assumptions. Constructivism’s basic tenets are that structures of human association are determined primarily by shared ideas rather than material forces, and that the identities and interests of purposive actors are constructed by these shared ideas it rather than given by nature.

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‘The first represents an idealist approach to social life, and its emphasis on biology, technology, and even the environment. The second is a holist or structuralist approach because of its emphasis on the emergent powers of social structures, are reducible to individuals. Constructivism can therefore be seen as a kind of structural realism’22 The end of the cold war produced a major reconfiguration of debates for the simple reason that no one predicted its demise. The theory to emerge from this new world order was critical theory and in the case of this essay constructivism.

The rise of constructivism was prompted by a number of factors. First, motivated by an attempt to reassert the pre-eminence of their own conceptions of theory and world politics, leading rationalists challenged critical theorists to move beyond theoretical critique to the substantive analysis of International relations. Secondly, the end of the cold war undermined the explanatory pretensions of neo realists and neoliberals, neither of which predicted, nor comprehend the systematic transformations reshaping the world order.

Thirdly, a new generation of scholars emerged who embraced many of the propositions of critical international theory, but saw potential for innovation in conceptual elaboration and empirically informed theoretical development. Also to emerge were new themes in world politics such as the role of NGOS, human rights and the change in basic institutional practices. 23 The emergence of constructivism has brought about a more sociological, historical and practice orientated form of International relations scholarship. While often seen as an alternative to, realism and liberalism, it does share some common features.

The key feature been the existence of anarchy and the centrality of the states in the International system However Wendt’s, observation of anarchy is in terms of culture over materialist terms. The term ‘anarchy itself makes clear why this must be so, it refers to an absence, not a presence, it tells us what there is not, not what there is. It is an empty vessel, without intrinsic meaning. What gives anarchy meaning are the kinds of people who live there and the structure of their relationships’24 Conclusion Is theory important?

I ask myself this question on the basis that when I look at the theories examined I don’t feel they give me confidence in examining international relations. Yes they all make relevant points, but eventually they all become redundant. We probably shouldn’t expect too much from any empirical theory25. As I stated previously none of the theories I examined predicted the end of the cold war or its immediate consequences for Europe and the rest of the world. In my introduction I stated that theories were there to help us predict the future or at least calculate what will happen.

It is basic human nature to look for these answers. So if these theories don’t calculate the future. Why then are they important? Well essentially the conflicting theories offer debate on what is important in the International arena. This should have a positive effect on society. One only has to look at the recent debates on human rights and the growth of NGOS. These themselves are new phenomena. This is why the great proliferation of theoretical approaches should be applauded instead of lamented. 26 Essentially, theory tells us what possibilities exit for human action and interaction.

As Steve Smith states they define not merely our explanatory possibilities, but also our ethical and practical horizons. As we evolve our theories will evolve with how we interpret our world. In a perfect world we would find a theory that would result in world peace and prosperity. For this reason in my essay I tried to give a practical description of theory and tried not to come across as favouring one over another. The reason for this is that we as a society have yet to found our definite theory.

Bibliography Readings.Baylis, John The globalization of world politics : an introduction to international relations New York : Oxford University Press, 1997 Boucher, D, Political Theories of International Relations (1998) Boulder, Colo. : Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2006 making sense of international relations theory Brown, Chris, 1945- Basingstoke : Macmillan, 1997Understanding international relations Carlsnaes, Walter, Thomas Risse and Beth A. Simmons (eds. ), Handbook of international relations (2002) Dunne, Tim International relations theories: discipline and diversity Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Gray, Colin S. War, peace and international relations: an introduction to strategic history London; New York: Routledge, 2007. Hollis, Martin ; Steve Smith. Explaining and Understanding International Relations (1991) Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Theories of international relations Jackson, Robert H. Introduction to international relations : theories and approaches Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2007 Morgenthau, Hans J. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978,

Viotti, Paul R. International relations theory : realism, pluralism, globalism, and beyond Boston : Allyn and Bacon, 1999 Waltz, Kenneth Neal Theory of international politics , 1924-New York : McGraw-Hill, 1979. Wendt, Alexander, Social theory of international politics 1966-Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1999 Web Pages/Journals www2. etown. edu/vl/journals. html – 23k dir. yahoo. com/Social_Science/political_science/international_relations/journals/ – www. irtheory. com/ – 6k 1 Viotti Kauppi International Relations Theory Realism, Pluralism, Globalism pg 23.

2 Stephen Waltz International relations One world many theories pg 30 3 www. irtheory. com/ – 6k 4 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg1 5 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg4 6 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg9 7 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg23 8 J Garnett Commonsense and the theory of international lrelations 9 Scott Burchill Theories of international politics pg 35 10 Chris Brown Understanding International Relations pg 29.

11 Viotti Kauppi International relations theory pg 61 12 J Baylis ; Smith The globalisation of world politics pg95 13 Viotti Kauppi ‘International relations theory pg 39’ 14 Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Fifth Edition, Revised, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1978, pp. 4-15 15 Kenneth Waltz Theory of International Politics pg 99 16 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg35 17 Viotti Kauppi ‘International relations theory pg 30 18 Viotti Kauppi ‘International relations theory pg 42.

19 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg55 20 Viotti Kauppi ‘International relations theory pg 231 21 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg57 22 Alexander Wendt Social Theory of International Politics pg1 23 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg195 24 Alexander Wendt Social Theory of International Politics pg309 25 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg23 26 Scott Burchill and others Theories of International Relations pg24.


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