How Do Critical Ir Theories Differ from Traditional? Use Examples from at Least Two Different Theories to Illustrate Your Answer.

Topics: International relations, International relations theory, State Pages: 4 (1056 words) Published: March 11, 2011
How do Critical IR Theories Differ from Traditional? Use Examples from at Least two Different Theories to Illustrate your Answer.

Traditional theories of International Relations such as Realism can be traced back to the ancient Greek civilisation with the writings of Thucydides and later the post war works of Morgenthau. Realism recognises the “role of power in politics of all kinds” (Lebow:2007). Critical theories of International Relations coincide with the end of the Cold War due to the failure of traditional theories to predict its end.

Realism can be defined as the “constraints on politics imposed by human nature and the absence of international government. Together, they make International Relations largely a realm of power and interest” (Donnelly:2000). One of the key foundations of Realism is the balance of power. States seek a balance of power so that they are seen to be too strong to beat in a war. This balance of power can be achieved through alliances with other states and their military capabilities. The balance of power is to act as a deterrent to prevent war. Realists see military capabilities and alliances to be the foundation of security and those who tip the balance of power in their favour will ultimately be the strongest. However, if alliances are too strong they can drastically alter the balance of power forcing other states to form their own alliances which can eventually lead to war in an attempt to restore the balance of power or create a supreme power.

Classical Realists see the world as anarchical with no international government and that the state is central to society. Realists state that order can be achieved with an effective central authority and that its survival can only be maintained through its material capabilities and the alliances which it creates with other states (Lebow:2007).

Critical theories such as The English School look at International Relations in a different light. Unlike Realists, writers such as...
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