Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
International Relations, Theory
International relations (IR) theory is an area of social theory that seeks to account for international or world political events, patterns, relations, and interactions. Traditionally, as the concept implies, the focus of IR theory has been on the study of interstate relations and interactions: mainly on why states go to war with each other and why, under certain conditions, they may refrain from doing so. Yet it is important to note that in recent decades, the meaning, scope, and the interests driving IR theorists have expanded significantly beyond traditional interstate concerns. This expansion has been driven by the increased awareness of challenging new issues in international politics, such as globalization, human rights, global poverty, environmental threats, and global gender hierarchies. Interest in these issue areas has not only stimulated developments within traditional IR-theoretical approaches, such as realism and liberalism, but it has also seen a significant pluralization within the field ...