The essay discusses theories of IR such as realism, liberalism, Marxism, constructivism and shows how critical theory of International relations poses a challenge to Neorealism. Critical theory in international relations have used the social constructivist approaches to provide contrasting views to realism and liberalism from ontological perspectives…
Neorealism show the triumph of social control and structure in defining international relations. The international structure provides a constraint on state actions and although essentially the international structure is decentralised and anarchic, states strive for survival, security and balance of power (Dougherty 2001). Neorealism thus emphasises structural constraints over social perceptions and collective motivations and is more constrained in its explanations of IR.
On the other hand, critical theories of international relations would focus on a critical study of IR which would emphasise on origin, development and nature of historical structures of IR. Critical theories of international relations are oriented to critiquing and changing society considering wide perspectives derived from Kantian and Marxian traditions which aim to consider historical and social perspectives within a theory.
According to Marxist theories, capital accumulation and explanation of international systems on the basis of such integrated capiatlist approaches is at the focus of socialist concerns. Marxist theories see colonialism as a method of capital accummulation as captive markets show new forms of dependence on more developed countries. Marxist theories suggest that developed countries penetrate developing countries with missionaries, military power, multinational companies and political advisors to integrate these economies into a larger capitalist system. Within the context of developing societies being exploited considering their markets, natural resoruces and raw materials, Marxist theories also use the concept of social class with individuals comprising of the higher class of society being exploitative of the lower class using the sole aim of capital accumulation (Linklater 1990, Burchill 1996).
Another critical theory would be social constructivism which gives an epistemological dimension to postpositivist theories and lies in between positivist and postpositivist perspectives. Social constructivism focuses not on the economic aspects, unlike Marxism but on the theory of social ideas or perception showing that international structure constitutes identities and interests of state. The focus of social constructivism is on the state and actions of the state and as constructvism suggests that views and ideas are constructed, social constructivism deals with human experience and social perception. Social constructivism is of the contention that all knowledge of reality including race and gender are actively created by social relationships and interactions and that all meaning are derived from social structures (Brown, 2001, Taylor 1978). The emphasis is thus on society, social meaning and social activity giving meaning to social interactions and reality. Critical constructivism would argue that all proof or fact as seen in empirical research as in natural sciences could be considered as a social or ...
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What can neorealism explain?
In order to comprehensively understand as to what neorealism explains, it is important to understand the underlying concepts of classical realism and how it evolved over the period of time. Realism or political realism is based upon the notion that the individual as well as security concerns of a nation should be superior to the ideology as well as moral concerns.
Critical theoretical examination of the society and culture remains an important aspect especially in the current international affairs and politics. Therefore, the term critical theory has been widely applied in studying international politics. According to Philips (2000), critical theory is usually associated with the Frankfurt school from where works of influential theorists including Karl Marx and Jurgen Habermas continue making an important contribution to the study of critical theory in relation to international politics.
Introduced as early as 1948, classical realism came into being as a natural response when the proponents of this international relations theory, such as E.H. Carr, Hans Morgenthau, and Reinhold Niebuhr, came to recognize the failure of liberalism to maintain global peace during the World War II.
Social constructivism brings in a social ‘zest’ to theory of international relation. This research paper considers social constructivism as a perfect alternative for neorealist theory widely applied for international relations. Materialist theory analyzes behavior of states on the basis of material assets distribution.
Alexander Wendt ‘The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations’ Introduction Many have come to know Alexander Wendt because of his constructivist theory. In this theory, he postulates that anarchy is a socially constructed fact in international politics and it is scholars and politicians who decide how to work in that political environment.
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Morgenthau’s theory of classical realism was supper ceded by Kenneth Waltz’ concept of neorealism. The study therefore compares and contrasts the various aspects of Neorealism and classical realism with an aim of determining whether Neorealism is superior. The discussion challenges the existing conventional wisdom and body of knowledge.
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