International Relations

international relations, study of the relations among states and other political and economic units in the international system. Particular areas of study within the field of international relations include diplomacy and diplomatic history, international law, international organizations, international finance and economics, and communications, among others. In addition, increased attention has been paid in recent years to developing a more scientific understanding of the international system as a whole. Aspects of international relations have been studied as early as the time of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides. As a separate and definable discipline, however, it dates from the early 20th cent., when the first organized efforts were made to find alternatives to wars in nation-state international behavior. Two schools of thought quickly developed. One looks to strengthened international law and international organizations to preserve peace; the other emphasizes that nations will always use their power to achieve goals and sees the key to peace in a balance of power among competing states. With increased importance attached to a theoretical understanding of the whole international system, there has been a growing use of concepts and modes of analysis developed in the natural sciences in an attempt to improve the verifiability and applicability of theories. In many of the leading U.S. universities there are both research institutes and schools of international relations. See diplomatic service; United Nations; European Union.

See R. Aron, Peace and War (tr. 1967); H. J. Morgenthau, Politics among Nations (5th ed. rev. 1978); F. S. Northedge and M. J. Grieve, A Hundred Years of International Relations (1971); R. W. Mansbach and J. A. Vasquez, In Search of Theory (1981); F. S. Pearson and J. M. Rochester, International Relations (2d ed. 1988).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

International Relations: The Key Concepts
Martin Griffiths; Terry O'Callaghan.
Routledge, 2002
International Relations Theory: A Critical Introduction
Cynthia Weber.
Routledge, 2005 (2nd edition)
Recovering International Relations: The Promise of Sustainable Critique
Daniel J. Levine.
Oxford University Press, 2012
European Approaches to International Relations Theory: A House with Many Mansions
Jörg Friedrichs.
Routledge, 2004
Humanitarian Intervention and International Relations
Jennifer M. Welsh.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Movement in the Key Concepts of International Relations
Wallin, Risto.
Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, Vol. 32, No. 4, October-December 2007
Meaning and International Relations
Peter Mandaville; Andrew Williams.
Routledge, 2003
Order and Justice in International Relations
Rosemary Foot; John Gaddis; Andrew Hurrell.
Oxford University Press, 2003
Globalization and Fragmentation: International Relations in the Twentieth Century
Ian Clark.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Revolutions in Sovereignty: How Ideas Shaped Modern International Relations
Daniel Philpott.
Princeton University Press, 2001
Political Theories of International Relations: From Thucydides to the Present
David Boucher.
Oxford University Press, 1998
Neo-Neo-Realism: A Note on Contemporary International Relations Theory and Foreign Policy Today
Glickman, Harvey.
Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Summer 2010
Realism and International Relations
Jack Donnelly.
Cambridge University Press, 2000
The Cultural Construction of International Relations: The Invention of the State of Nature
Beate Jahn.
Palgrave, 2000
Beyond the Ivory Tower: International Relations Theory and the Issue of Policy Relevance
Joseph Lepgold; Miroslav Nincic.
Columbia University Press, 2001
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