Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952613 | Print ISBN: 9781412905794 | Online ISBN: 9781412952613 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Realism and Neorealism
Realism and neorealism have dominated the post-1945 academic study of international relations (IR). Realists claim to offer both the most accurate explanation of state behavior and a set of policy prescriptions (notably the balance of power between states) for ameliorating the inherent destabilizing elements of international affairs. Realism, at a general level, stresses the centrality of the state, national interest, and military power in world politics. It focuses on the continuity of patterns of interaction in an international system lacking a centralized political authority. This condition of anarchy means that international politics often follow a different logic from domestic politics, which is regulated by a sovereign power. Realists are pessimistic about the possibility of radical systemic reform. Realism is a broad tradition of thought, composed of a variety of different strands. The most significant break is between classical realism and neorealism. Realists frequently claim to draw on an ancient tradition ...