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104 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

International Relations

The relationship among the world's state governments and the connection of those relationships with other actors (UN and other organizations), with other social relationships (economics, culture, domestic politics) and with geographic and historical influence.

International Security

A subfield of IR that focuses on questions of war and peace.

International Political Economy (IPE)

The study of the politics of trade, monetary and other economic relations among nations, and their connection to other transnational forces.

Realist Paradigm

Sees the world as characterized primarily by conflict. Values maintenance of status quo and focuses on the laws of power politics.

Liberal-Pluralist Paradigm

Sees the world as characterized more by cooperative relations rather than conflicting ones. Believe that we should look at individuals, NGO's, multinational corporations, and anything that makes up the inner workings of a state.

Critical Paradigm

Sees the world as characterized primarily by inequalities among states, people, races, genders, classes, ethnic groups and others. The purpose of theorizing about IR is to contribute to a transformation of global politics and rectify relations of inequality.


An inhabited territorial entity controlled by a government that exercises its sovereignty.

United Nations (UN)

An organization of nearly all world states, created after WWII to promote collective security.

International System

The set of relationships among the world's states, structured according to certain rules and patterns of interaction.


States whose populations share a sense of national identity, usually including a language and culture.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The size of a state's total annual economic activity.

Non-State Actors

Actors other than state governments who operate either below the level of the state or across state borders.


Organizations such as the UN whose members are state governments.


Transnational groups or entities, like Greenpeace, that interact with states, multinational corporations, other NGOs and IGOs.

Global Social Movement

Nonstate groups that organize transnationally, usually to protest around an issue or event, like human rights, women's issues, and the environment.

Individual Level of Analysis

Concerns the perceptions, choices and actions of individual human beings.

Domestic Level of Analysis

Concerns the aggregations of individuals within states that influence state actions in the international arena.

Interstate Level of Analysis

Concerns the influence of the international system on outcomes. Focuses on the states themselves without, without regard to their internal make-up or the particular individuals who lead them.

Global Level of Analysis

Seeks to explain international outcomes in terms of global trends and forces that transcend the interactions of states themselves.

Digital Divide

The gap in access to information technologies between and within countries.

North-South Gap

The disparity in resources (income, wealth and power) between the industrialized, relatively rich countries in the west (and former communist bloc) and poorer countries in Africa, the Middle East and much of Asia and Latin America.


The identification with and devotion to the interests of one's nations. It usually involves a large group of people who share a national identity and often a language, culture, or ancestry.


The use of fossil fuel energy to drive machinery and the accumulation of such machinery along with the products created.

Free Trade

The flow of goods and services across national boundaries unimpeded by tariffs or other restrictions of in principle, free trade was a kay aspect of Britain's policy after 1846 and of U.S. and Canadian policy after 1945.

League of Nations

Established after WWI and a forerunner of today's UN, the League of Nations achieved certain humanitarian and other successes but was weakened by the absence of the US membership and its own lack of effectiveness in ensuring collective security.

Munich Agreement

A symbol of the failed policy of appeasement, this agreement signed in 1938, allowed Nazi Germany to occupy a part of Czechoslovakia. Rather than appease German aspirations, it was followed by further German expansion, which triggered WWII.


The intentional and systematic attempt to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or part. It was confirmed as a crime under international law by the UN Genocide Convention (1948).

Cold War

The hostile relations punctuated by occasional periods of improvement, or detente, between the two superpowers - The US and the USSR, from 1945-1990


A policy adopted in the late 1940's by which the US sought to halt the global expansion of Soviet influence on several levels- military, political, ideological and economic.

Sino-Soviet Split

A rift in the 1960's between the communist powers of the Soviet Union and China, fuelled by China's opposition to soviet moves towards peaceful coexistence with the US.

Summit Meeting

A meeting between heads of state, often referring to leaders of great powers, as in the Cold War superpower summits between the US and SU or today's meetings of the Group of Eight on economic coordination.

Cuban Missile Crisis

A super power crisis, sparked by the Soviet Union's installation of medium-range nuclear missiles in Cuba, that marks the moment when the US and SU came closest to nuclear war.

Proxy Wars

Wars in the global south-often civil wars-in which the US and the SU jockeyed for position by supplying and advising opposing factions.

Realism (Political)

A broad intellectual tradition that explains international relations mainly in terms of power.


An approach that emphasizes international law, morality and international organization rather than power alone as key influences on international relations.


A version of realist theory that emphasizes the influence of the system's structure on state behaviour, and particularly the international distribution of power.


The ability or potential to influence others' behaviour, as measured by the possession of certain tangible and intangible characteristics.

Estimating Power

Another state taking into account the total size of another state's GDP, military capabilities and popularity among other nations when determining the outcome of a potential war.

State Power

A states power is characterized by natural resources, industrial capacity, moral legitimacy, military preparedness, and popular support of government.


The use of geography as an element of power, and the ideas about it held by political leaders and scholars.

Rational Actors

Actors conceived as single entities that can "think" about their actions coherently, make choices, identify interests, and rank the interests in terms of priority.

National Interest

The interests of a state overall rather than focusing on particular factions or parties within a state.

Cost-Benefit Analysis

A calculation of the costs incurred by a possible action and the benefits it is likely to bring.

Game Theory

A branch of mathematics concerned with predicting bargaining outcomes. Games such as Prisoner's Dilemma and Chicken have been used to analyze various sorts of international interactions.

Zero-Sum Games

A situation in which one actor's gain is by definition equal to the other's loss, as opposed to a non-zero sum game, in which it is possible for both actors to gain.


The term implies not complete chaos but the lack of a central government that can enforce rules.


Shared expectations about what behaviour is considered proper.


A state's right, at least in principle, to do whatever it wants within its own territory; traditionally, sovereignty is the most important international norm.

Security Dilemma

A situation in which states' actions taken to assure their own security are perceived as threats to the security of other states.

Balance of Power

The general concept of one or more states' power being used to balance that of another state or group of states. The term can refer to (1) any ratio of power capabilities between states or alliances (2) a relatively equal ratio, or (3) the process by which counterbalancing coalitions have repeatedly formed to prevent one state from conquering an entire region.

Great Powers

Generally the half dozen or so most powerful states. IE: US, China, Russia

Middle Powers

States that rank somewhat below the great powers in terms of their influence on world affairs. IE: Canada, Brazil, India.

Multipolar System

An international system with typically five or six centres of power that are not grouped into alliances.

Unipolar System

Has a single centre of power around which all others revolve.

Bipolar System

Has two predominant states or two great rival alliance blocs.

Tripolar System

There are three great centres of power; this system has a tendency for a two-against-one alliance to form.


The holding by one state of a preponderance of power in the international system so that it can single handedly dominate the rules and arrangements by which international political and economic relations are conducted.


Used to pursue good outcomes in bargaining with one or more other actors.


The art of managing state affairs and effectively maneuvering in a world of power politics among sovereign states.


A response in kind to another's actions; a strategy of reciprocity uses positive forms of leverage to promise rewards and negative forms of leverage to threaten punishment.


The threat to punish another actor if it takes a certain negative action.


The use of force to make another actor take some action (rather than refrain from taking one). Sometimes used if deterrence fails.

Arms Race

A reciprocal process in which two or more states build up military capabilities in response to each other.


An economic theory and a political ideology opposed to free trade; it shares with realism the belief that each state must protect its own interests without seeking mutual gains through international organizations.

Liberal Pluralism

Put emphasis on cooperation of global interactions, not the conflicts. Provide policy relevant advice to many actors rather than just states. Focuses on the collective and individual interests.

Liberal Power

The Liberal approach to power is seeing it not as having power over others, but power that will give states the ability to accomplish desirable ends. This comes from capitalizing on common interests rather than conflicting ones.

Immanuel Kant

Lead Liberal theories’ preoccupation with peace and cooperation. Advocated universal or cosmopolitan rights, which laid the groundwork for modern day human rights.

Invisible Hand

The idea relies on the presumption that trade increases wealth, cooperation and global well being while making conflict less likely in the long term since governments will not want to disrupt any process that adds to the wealth of their state. Adam Smith.

Woodrow Wilson

Believed that Europe was the greatest threat to international security because most wars started there. Decided to create the league of nations (1919), a multilateral government that would help create a secure nation. An early/strong advocate of collective effort. Collective security, and supporter of free trade and self determination.

Neoliberalism Institutionalism (Neoliberalism)

A liberal approach that stresses the importance of international institutions in reducing the inherent conflict that realists assume in an international system. Cooperation is in their self-interest of a state because it helps them achieve long term mutual gains, and this also helps reduce the possibility of cheating another state.


A strategy of strict reciprocity after an initial cooperative move.

Collective Goods

Non rival and non-exclusive. No one country can be blocked from getting the good, nor can they undermine it. IE: schools, roads, hospitals. Easier in small groups.

Free Riders

Those who benefit from someone else’s provision without paying the costs involved

Collective Goods Problem

The problem of how to provide something that benefits all members of a group regardless of what each member contributes. A lot of these problems are solved by governments which enforce rules for the common good, such as punishing free riders.

International Regimes

A set of rules, norms, and procedures around which the expectations of actors converge on a certain issue, like arms control or international trade. The expectations of the participants in the international regimes is to fulfill the common objectives through these rules that are laid out by the actors. They help overcome collective goods problems by increasing transparency.

Hegemonic Stability Theory

The argument that regimes are most effective when power in the international system is most concentrated. The hegemonic interest is to maintain global order/stability, especially regarding the promotion of the world market, which can only work with global order and stability among the various states and actors. U.S. became a hegemon after WWII.

Collective Security

The formation of a broad coalition of most major actors in an international system for the purpose of jointly opposing aggression by any actor. Iraq/Kuwait and USA/Iraq.

Human Security

Expands the notion of security away from a focus on states to one that examines all complex ways in which people are made secure, including through human rights protections. IE: access to education, food and shelter, health services, and a sustainable environment.

The Democratic Peace

The proposition, strongly supported by empirical evidence, that democracies almost never fight wars against each other, but rather against authoritarian states. Democracies are more peaceful than authoritarian regimes because democracies avoid severe conflicts with each other because they tend to be capitalist states whose trade relations create strong interdependence.


A recently popular approach in IR that focuses on the nature of norms, identity and social interaction between various actors in global politics. We create the international order through what our perception of disorder looks like. We construct global order through collective identities, behaviours and constructing norms.

Peace Studies

Some emphasize possibilities for reform of the international system while others seek a more fundamental transformation in both the way we think & about world politics & what should be done to promote peace. Challenges fundamental concepts behind realism & attempts to broaden the focus of social relations through the study of the individual, domestic, & global levels.

Normative Bias

The personal norms and values that IR scholars bring to their studies, such as preference for peace rather than war.

Conflict Resolution

The development and implementation of peaceful strategies for settling conflicts.


Is the use of a third party in conflict resolution. Mediation is one of the leading forces in conflict resolution among most of today’s international conflicts between states so that they can be resolved without violence.


Is when is when both sides agree in advance to abide by a solution devised by a mediator.

Citizen Diplomacy

Is when heads of state do not see their common interests, and ordinary citizens decide to to try and raise awareness of of such mutual interests on both sides.


The glorification of war, military force and violence and the structuring of society around war, such as the dominant role of a military industrial complex in a national economy.

Positive Peace

A peace that resolves the underlying reasons for war; not just a ceasefire but a transformation of relationships, including elimination or reduction of economic exploitation and political oppression.

Structural Violence

A term used by some scholars to refer to poverty, hunger, oppression, and other social and economic sources of conflict.

World Government

A centralized world governing body with strong enforcement powers. This idea has been pursued by activists, and progress seems to be being made by the UN. Some people see this is a good idea to have in place. Other people think that it is a bad idea because peace demands decentralization and freedom, which a centralized government would get rid of.

Peace Movements

Movements against specific wars or against war and usually militarism in general, usually involving large numbers of people and forms of direct action, such as street protests.


Getting antiwar messages into the media, participating in civil disobedience, and occasionally organizing consumer boycotts.


Conscription, government buildings, taxes and nuclear test sites.


A philosophy based on a unilateral commitment to refrain from using any any violent forms of leverage. Pacifism more specifically refers to a principled opposition to war in general rather than simply to particular wars.

Economic Liberalism

Advocates freedom of the market. States should seek to open up trading relations and financial markets rather than restricting them to serve political ends. This is an important element of the global political economy. When institutions interfere with this type of market, they detract from growth and efficiency, which can compromise the peaceful relations between states.

Problem-Solving Theory

theory that takes the world as it is and attempts to make institutions and relationships work more smoothly within that given framework. Usually contrasted with critical theory.

Critical Theory

Theory that questions the very framework that problem-solving theory takes for granted and is concerned with relations of inequality and the issues that are unexplored or made invisible within more mainstream approaches to IR.


Entails reflecting on the assumptions and political commitments that inform our theories and acknowledging that theories help constitute the world as we know it.

Historical Materialism

A unique contribution of Marxist thought that understands societies in terms of the ways in which relations of production are organized and eventually transformed.

Gramscian Hegemony

A view that contrasts with realist definition of hegemony; recognizes that those with power rule through a mixture of coercion and consent and hegemony functions when the relations of power sustain a given social order recede into the background of consciousness.

Standpoint Feminism

A strand of feminism that believes gender differences are not just socially constructed and that views of women as inherently less warlike than men.

Liberal Feminism

A strand of feminism that emphasizes gender equality and views "essential" differences in men's and women's abilities or perspectives as trivial or non-existent.

Post-Positivist Feminism

An effort to combine feminist and postmodernist perspectives with the aim of uncovering the hidden influence of gender in IR and showing how arbitrary the correction of gender roles is.

Gender Gap

Refers to polls showing women lower than men on average in their support for military actions.