NEO-REALISM Structural Realism

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NEO-REALISM Structural Realism Powered By Docstoc
        Lecture 4
     (Structural Realism)
• Key Text: Kenneth Waltz, Theory of
  International Politics (1979)
          Nature of Theory
• Abstraction

• Fact versus Theory

• Theory: an intellectual construction by
  which we select facts and interpret them.
  (Example: Concept of the economy in
 Waltz and International Theory
• Theory obviously cannot explain the
  accidental or account for unexpected

• Theories deal with regularities and
  repetitions that are possible only if these
  can be identified.
 Waltz and International Theory
• A theory is a depiction of the organisation
  of a domain and of the connections among
  its parts.

• A theory indicates that some factors are
  more important than others and specifies
  relations among them.
 Waltz and International Theory
• In reality, everything is related to everything
  else, and one domain cannot be separated from

• Theory isolates one realm from all others in
  order to deal with it intellectually.

• To isolate a realm is a precondition to
  developing a theory that will explain what goes
  on within it.
 Waltz and International Theory
• “Complexity” does not work against theory.
  Rather, theory is a means of dealing with

• For example, given the concept of the market—a
  bounded economic domain—economists have
  been able to develop further concepts and draw
  connections among them.

• An assumption or a set of assumptions is
 Waltz and International Theory
• The assumptions on which theories are
  built are radical simplifications of the world
  and are useful because they are such.
              KEY POINTS
• To define a structure requires ignoring
  how units relate with one another (how
  they interact) and concentrating on how
  they stand in relation to one another (how
  they are arranged or positioned.
  Interactions. . .take place at the level of
  units. How units stand in relation to one
  another. . .is not the property of the units.
  The arrangement of units is a property of
  the system.
            Three Propositions
• First, structures may endure while personality,
  behaviour, and interactions vary widely. Structure is
  sharply distinguished from actions and interactions.

• Second, a structural definition applies to realms of widely
  different substance as long as the arrangement of parts
  is similar.

• Third, because this is so, theories developed for one
  realm may with some modification be applicable to other
  realms as well.
             Structural Realism
• International Politics is essentially a struggle for power
  not because of human nature but due to anarchy

• Anarchy is not chaos, but the absence of a political

• Three elements of the international system (Waltz): (1)
  organizing principle (2) differentiation of units & (3)
  distribution of capabilities

• Two different organizing principles : anarchy and
           Structural Realism
• Anarchy reflects to the decentralised nature of
  international politics

• Hierarchy is the basis of the domestic order

• Units of the international system are functionally
  similar sovereign states

• Distribution of capabilities across units is key to
  understanding international politics
             Structural Realism
• Distribution of power in the international system is the
  key independent variable to explain war and peace,
  alliance politics, and the balance of power

• Rank-ordering of states allows to differentiate the Great
  Powers that exist at any particular moment

• Number of Great Powers determines the structure of the
  international system (Unipolar, Bipolar, Multipolar)
           Structural Realism
• Self-help is main principle of state behaviour
  (Remember: the assumption of anarchy)

• The ultimate objective of states is not power, but

• Power maximizing versus security maximizing
  (Power maximization is dysfunctional because it
  provokes a counterbalancing coalition of states