Ir Theories

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1. How do the major IR theories define and explain change. Why has this become an important standard in evaluating the utility of alternate IR approaches? Which theory or combination of theories does best at explaining change (use examples from recent events)?

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, major global changes have occurred in the world. In order to understand these changes from an International relations’ point of view, we must look at theories such as realism, liberalism and Constructivism.
Realism is a paradigm based on the assumption that politics are essentially a struggle between the power and position of countries and their interests. Realists focus on the role that great powers play in the international system.
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It believes that states behave similarly, even though their regimes might be different. Therefore, realists explain the international political structures in terms of states. Realists see states as the main shapers of the international mechanism. Realists see the state as unitary - even when there are differences within a state’s government, the state will come out with a unified answer. They also see the state as a rational actor, when according to specific goals they react and consider their alternatives according to their capabilities. They are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, but realists assume that leaders will try to achieve the best results within the given situation. States will act in order to increase their chance of continuing to exist. Strong states have the power and the legitimacy to shape the global system. The role of states is to assure security in an anarchist international arena. Consequently, states as an integral part of the anarchist system, are here for the long term. Realism finds non-state actors such as multinational corporations and institutions less important than the state. In a realist view, even major institutions such as the United Nations are not important, since they do not stand independently and are being supported by states. The main critics against realism is also relevant to the way realists define actors – since they did not predict the end of the cold war, they are unable to explain new actors emerging in the international

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