Neo-Realism vs Neo-Liberalism

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Kayla Ferry
Political Science 150
Dr. Byron
October 5, 2010

1) Neo-realism, also known as structural realism see international politics as a power struggle between states. Conflicts between states and security competition are due to a lack of “an overarching authority above states and the relative distribution of power in the international system” (Dunne 98). Scholar Kenneth Waltz defined the structure of the international system in three elements: organizing principle, differentiation of units, and distribution of capabilities. To structural realists the distribution of capabilities gives important insight to grasping international outcomes, and the relative distribution of power in the international system is the strategic variable to understanding such outcomes. Structural realists argue that the number of great powers that exists concludes the structure of the international system. Waltz describes the structure as the “ordering principle of the international system, which is anarchy and the distribution capabilities across units, which are states” (Dunne 127). Neo-realists also believe the structure of the international system shapes all foreign policy choices and see power as the collective competences of the states. In other words the more power a state has in the international system the more influence they have on world affairs. However the flaw that accompanies neo-realism, is the increase of the application of “self-help”, a.k.a. increase of military security. Neo-liberalist agrees largely with the views and beliefs of neo-realists, “the anarchic international structure, the centrality of states, and a rationalist approach to social scientific inquiry” (Dunne 115). The main difference between the two theories is neo-liberalist believe that anarchy does not mean the arrangements of cooperation are impossible. International regimes are the implementer for cooperation. Arguments made by neo-liberalists believe that academic inquiry is guided...
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