International Relations/What is International Relations?

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What is International Relations?[edit | edit source]

International Relations is a branch of Political Science dealing with interactions between actors (typically states) in the international system. There are several schools of thought which claim to provide a theoretical model for International Relations, and therefore understand or even predict the behavior of actors on the world stage. Theories of International Relations can be broadly classified into Rationalist and Constructivist groups.

The term "International Relations"[edit | edit source]

The term "International Relations" is used to describe a phenomenon in its broader sense and therefore is wider than "International Politics" which as a term describes exclusively military and political relations.[1]

The term "International Relations" came to existence at a time when "nation" was considered identical with "state". This identification became much more visible during the second part of the 19th century, when the right of every nation to aquire its own government emerged.[2] This right was particularly outlined at the beginning of the 20th century in the League of Nations Charter, in which the term "state" was actually replaced by "nation". Because of the fact that the League Of Nations was the first important international organization this connection between "state" and "nation" was instituted. From this point on and despite the fact that "International Relations" literally refer to relations between nations, the term is widely used to describe the relations between states.

With the creation of international/ multinational organizations came the transformation of the international environment which changed the role of the state. At this point the international organizations are thought to be one of the international actors along with the states. Because of the shift of influence described above, the term "International Relations" may refer to the relations between international organizations. In this context "International Relations" reflect a more limited view as they are mainly about political and military relations known as "high politics" and economic relations known as "low politics".[3]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Kouskouvelis Elias, "Introduction to International Relations" Poiotita, Athens 2004
  2. Kouskouvelis Elias, "Introduction to Political Science" Papazisis,Athens 1997, p. 260
  3. Ifaistos P. "Theory of International and European Integration", Poiotita, Athens, 1999,p. 256