International Relations : a Distinct Discipline.

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The question of whether International Relations is a distinct discipline has been a matter of consistent controversy. However, any field of study needs to fulfill certain criteria in order to be classified as a distinct academic discipline. Accordingly, I believe, that International Relations is indeed a ‘Distinct Discipline’ since it has many characteristics of a distinct academic discipline.

International Relations can be interpreted by some to be ‘actual relations between states’ but in the academic field of International Relations, we give it a somewhat different definition. Whilst there has never been a precise definition regarding the discipline of International Relations it can be broadly defined as –

“ A branch of social sciences dealing with policies, developments and interactions, the effects of which cross national boundaries and affect the lives of people in different countries and in several parts of the world. ”

Though IR as an academic discipline is of recent origin, relations among nations is a phenomena that is as old as history itself. Scholars often trace the origin of International Relations back to 1648. This is due to the fact that although actual relations between states had taken place since the ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, Rome -they were incidental, sporadic and limited in nature. But by the Westphalia Treaty of 1648 International relations assumed a new character. It was from this treaty that the concepts of “territorial sovereignty” and “independent nation sate” were born. But it isn’t until the period after World War I in the 1920’s that International Relations developed as a “distinct discipline”. The industrial revolution in the 19th century, brought with it new thought, technology, communication, transportation. Trade, transit and transactions had become the order of the day. All these developments had made international relations more systematic, regular and comprehensive. The trauma of the First World War



References: 1. International Relations –by Vinay Kumar Malhotra (2002) 2. Handbook of International Relations –by Walter Carlsnaes, Thomas Risse-Kappen, Beth A.Simmons (2002) 3. A History of International Relations Theory : an introduction –by Torbjorn L. Knutsen (1997) 4. The study of International Politics : a survey of trends and developments –by Kenneth.W.Thompson (1952) 5. Theory of International Politics –by Kenneth Waltz (1979) 6. Politics among nations : The struggle for power and peace –by Hans.J.Morganthau (1954) 7. Idealism and Realism : beyond the discipline –by Robert.M.A.Crawford (2000)

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