Cover Page

International Relations Theory Today

Second Edition


Preface and Acknowledgements

The aim of this book, like that of its first edition in 1995, is to underline the continuing significance of thinking theoretically about international relations. It provides students and other scholars of International Relations (IR), Political Science, Security Studies, and Global Politics at second-year and higher levels with ideas and material to help in understanding, explaining, analysing, and engaging with the old and new challenges at the crucial international level of world politics.

In producing this book we have incurred many debts. We wish to begin by recalling the role of Anthony Giddens, who proposed the publication of the first edition. For prodding us into a second edition, and providing excellent advice and support from its conception to publication, we warmly thank Polity’s Louise Knight. Also at Polity, Pascal Porcheron, Nekane Tanaka Galdos, and Caroline Richmond provided valuable assistance at various stages in the project.

Steve Smith was one of the two co-editors of the first edition. His imprint on that book was everywhere, and his introductory essay has rightly become a standard reference point in the field.

The chapters making up this volume would not be what they are without the authors’ conference held in the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. For help in funding that conference we acknowledge the assistance of Aberystwyth University’s Research Fund and its Department of International Politics (and the support of successive heads of department, Michael Foley and Jenny Mathers), the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies, and the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Canberra. Special thanks are due to an outstanding group of front-line discussants, chairs, and commentators at the Aberystwyth conference and afterwards: Richard Beardsworth, Andrew Davenport, Ian Clark, Milja Kurki, Jenny Mathers, Mustapha Pasha, Jan Ruzicka, Duncan Snidal, Kamila Stullerova, and Hidemi Suganami. Their interventions and suggestions significantly strengthened the chapters presented in this book. For help with the logistics of the conference, we were ably supported by Rachel Vaughan, Elaine Lowe, and Grant Dawson.

Polity’s three anonymous reviewers of the manuscript were quick, conscientious, and critical, and we also want to acknowledge their contribution.

In helping us to manage the flow of e-mails, and for providing outstanding editorial assistance at different stages of the project, we are in the debt of Kimberley Layton, Nishank Motwani, and Rhiannon Neilsen. We are also grateful for the research funding from UNSW Canberra that made their assistance possible.

As ever, and last but not least, we thank our long-suffering families, and particularly EB and MD, for their support and patience throughout this long project.

The Preface to the first edition began: ‘This is a confusing yet exciting and important time for those who study international relations.’ In the tumultuous two decades that followed, we are convinced that the times are even more confusing, the challenges to understanding it all are greater than ever, and the future yet more in doubt. The subject matter of this book therefore remains of profound and universal significance.

Ken Booth and Toni Erskine


Pinar Bilgin is Professor of International Relations at Bilkent University. She specialises in critical approaches to Security Studies and is the author of Regional Security in the Middle East: A Critical Perspective (2005) and The International in Security, Security in the International (2016). She is past president of the Central and East European International Studies Association, a past member of the steering committee of the Standing Group on International Relations of the European Consortium for Political Research, a governing council member of the European International Studies Association, an associate member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences, and associate editor of International Political Sociology.

David L. Blaney holds the G. Theodore Mitau Chair of Political Science, Macalester College, St Paul, Minnesota. His research revolves around international political theory, culture and IR and IPE, and political economic thought. With Naeem Inayatullah, he has written International Relations and the Problem of Difference (2004) and Savage Economics: Wealth, Poverty and the Temporal Walls of Capitalism (2010), and, with Arlene Tickner, he has edited Thinking International Relations Differently (2012) and Claiming the International (2013). He is now working on theodicy and political economic thought from Smith to neo-classical economics and contemporary IPE.

Ken Booth was formerly E. H. Carr Professor and head of the Department of International Politics, Aberystwyth University. He is presently senior research associate, editor of International Relations, and president of the David Davies Memorial Institute of International Studies. He is a former chair of the British International Studies Association. His publications include Strategy and Ethnocentrism (1979), Theory of World Security (2007), and The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (2008, with Nicholas J. Wheeler). He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a recipient of the International Studies Association’s Susan Strange Award.

Chris Brown is Emeritus Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and the author of International Society, Global Polity (2015), Practical Judgement in International Political Theory (2010), Sovereignty, Rights and Justice (2002), and International Relations Theory: New Normative Approaches (1992), editor of Political Restructuring in Europe: Ethical Perspectives (1994), and co-editor of International Relations in Political Thought (2002, with Terry Nardin and N. J. Rengger). His textbook Understanding International Relations (2009) is now in its fourth and final edition and has been translated into Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese, and Turkish. He is a former chair of the British International Studies Association.

Molly Cochran is Reader in International Relations at Oxford Brookes University. She previously taught at the Georgia Institute of Technology and held a Council on Foreign Relations Fellowship (2002–3), working at Human Rights Watch on international criminal justice issues. Her research interests are normative International Relations theory and American pragmatism. Her publications include Normative Theory in International Relations: A Pragmatic Approach (1999), The Cambridge Companion to John Dewey (2010), ‘Charting the ethics of the English School’, in International Studies Quarterly (2009), and ‘A democratic critique of cosmopolitan democracy’, in the European Journal of International Relations (2002).

Campbell Craig is Professor of International Politics at Cardiff University. His main research interests are nuclear and Cold War history and contemporary International Relations theory. Over the past several years he has been Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University and visiting fellow at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, the European University Institute, and Bristol University. His most recent book, co-authored with Fredrik Logevall, is America’s Cold War: The Politics of Insecurity (2009), and he is currently writing with Jan Ruzicka, a book on nuclear proliferation and US unipolar preponderance to be published by Cornell University Press.

Neta C. Crawford is a Professor of Political Science at Boston University. Her books include Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization, and Humanitarian Intervention (2002) and Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America’s Post 9/11 Wars (2013). She is the co-director of the project

Cynthia Enloe is Research Professor at Clark University, Massachusetts. She currently serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Security Dialogue, and International Political Sociology. Among her recent books are Seriously! Investigating Crashes and Crises as if Women Mattered (2013), and Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (2010). In 2014 she published a revised, thoroughly updated new edition of Bananas, Beaches and Bases.

Toni Erskine is Professor of International Politics and Associate Director of the Australian Centre for Cyber Security at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She has been on the Governing Council (2008–10; 2014–16) and the Executive Committee (2014–15) of the International Studies Association and is past president of its International Ethics section (2008–10). Until 2013 she was Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her publications include Embedded Cosmopolitanism (2008) and, as editor, Can Institutions Have Responsibilities? (2003) and, with Richard Ned Lebow, Tragedy and International Relations (2012). She is currently completing a manuscript entitled Locating Responsibility: Institutional Moral Agency and International Relations.

Inanna Hamati-Ataya is Reader in International Politics at Aberystwyth University. Her research lies at the intersection of world politics, social theory, the sociology of knowledge, and science studies. She is co-editor, with Arlene Tickner, David Blaney, and Ole Wæver of the Worlding beyond the West book series (Routledge) and co-editor, with Jonathan Joseph, of the IR Theory section of the International Studies Encyclopedia (Wiley-Blackwell). She is a trustee of the British International Studies Association, chair of the International Political Sociology Section of the International Studies Association, and a member of the Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.

Naeem Inayatullah is Professor of Politics at Ithaca College, New York. His work locates the Third World in international relations and the global political economy. With David Blaney, he is the co-author of Savage Economics (2010) and International Relations and the Problem of Difference (2004). He is the editor of Autobiographical International Relations (2011) and co-editor of Interrogating Imperialism (2006) and The Global Economy as Political Space (1994). Forthcoming work includes ‘Gigging on the world stage: bossa nova and Afrobeat after de-reification’ and ‘A problem with levels: engaging a diverse IPE’ (both in Contexto Internacional) and, co-edited with Elizabeth Dauphinee, Narrative Global Politics.

Patrick Thaddeus Jackson is Professor of International Relations and Associate Dean for Curriculum and Learning in the School of International Service at the American University in Washington, DC. In 2003–4, and again in 2012–13, he served as president of the International Studies Association Northeast. He is presently the series editor of the University of Michigan Press’s book series Configurations: Critical Studies of World Politics and a web editor for International Studies Quarterly. His latest book, The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations (2011), received the Yale H. Ferguson Award for the book most advancing international studies as a pluralist field.

Richard Ned Lebow is Professor of International Political Theory in the War Studies Department of King’s College London, Bye-Fellow of Pembroke College, University of Cambridge, and the James O. Freedman Presidential Professor (Emeritus) of Government at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. His most recent publications, all of which appeared in 2014, are Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives: A World without World War I, Constructing Cause in International Relations, and, co-authored with Simon Reich, Goodbye Hegemony! Rethinking America’s Role in the World. Books are forthcoming on national identifications and foreign policy and Max Weber and international relations.

Andrew Linklater is Woodrow Wilson Professor of International Politics at Aberystwyth University. He has published extensively on theories of international relations and has in recent years explored connections between Sociology and International Relations as part of an examination of harm in world politics. His most recent book is The Problem of Harm in World Politics: Theoretical Investigations (2011). A follow-up volume, Violence and Civilization in the Western States-Systems, will be published in 2016. Linklater is currently writing a book which is provisionally entitled The Idea of Civilization in World Politics.

Craig N. Murphy teaches at Wellesley College and the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Global and Policy Studies of the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is past president of the International Studies Association, past chair of the Academic Council on the UN System, and co-founder of the council’s journal, Global Governance. His books include The United Nations Development Programme: A Better Way? (2006), The International Organization for Standardization (2009, co-authored with JoAnne Yates), and Rising Powers and the Future of Global Governance (2013, co-edited with Kevin Gray).

Nicholas Onuf is Professor Emeritus, Florida International University, Miami, and Professor Associado, Instituto de Relações Internationais, Pontifica Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro. His latest book, Making Sense, Making Worlds: Constructivism in Social Theory and International Relations (2013), was published in conjunction with the republication of World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations (1989; 2nd edn 2013).

Heikki Patomäki is Professor of World Politics at the University of Helsinki, Finland. His research interests include philosophy and methodology of the social sciences, peace research, futures studies, economic theory, global political economy, and global political theory. His most recent books in English are The Great Eurozone Disaster: From Crisis to Global New Deal (2013) and The Political Economy of Global Security (2008). Previously, he has worked as Professor of World Politics and Economy at Nottingham Trent University and at RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2012 he was visiting professor at the Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan.

Jennifer Sterling-Folker is Alan R. Bennett Honors Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Connecticut. She is a member of the International Studies Association Publications Committee and has served as the co-editor of the ISA journal International Studies Review and the BISA journal Review of International Studies. Among her research interests are international relations theory, international organisation, and international law, and her books include Making Sense of International Relations Theory (2006; 2nd edn 2013) and Theories of International Cooperation and the Primacy of Anarchy (2002).

Christine Sylvester is Professor of Political Science, University of Connecticut, and Affiliated Professor in Global Studies, Gothenburg University. She has received an honorary degree from Lund University, been Kerstin Hesslegren Chair for Sweden, and has held posts in Australia (Australian National University), the Netherlands (the International Institute of Social Studies), and the UK (Lancaster University). Her recent research comes out of the Experiencing War project she initiated and includes Masquerades of War (ed., 2015), War as Experience (2013), and Experiencing War (ed., 2011). She was also author of the first feminist IR books in the Cambridge IR series (Feminist Theory and International Relations in a Postmodern Era and Feminist International Relations: An Unfinished Journey).

Thomas G. Weiss is Presidential Professor of Political Science at the City University of New York’s Graduate Center, Director Emeritus of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies, and Research Professor at SOAS, University of London. He served as research director of the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty. Among his recent books are Governing the World? Addressing ‘Problems without Passports’ (2014), Global Governance: Why? What? Whither? (2013), Humanitarian Business (2013), What’s Wrong with the United Nations and How to Fix it (2016), Humanitarian Intervention: Ideas in Action (2016), and Thinking about Global Governance: Why People and Ideas Matter (2011).

Colin Wight is Professor and Chair of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sydney. Previously, he worked at the Department of International Politics in Aberystwyth University, the Department of Politics in Sheffield University, and the University of Exeter. He is the author of Agents, Structures and International Relations (2006) and Rethinking Terrorism (2015). Between 2008 and 2013 he was editor in chief of the European Journal of International Relations. He has published articles in International Studies Quarterly, the European Journal of International Relations, Political Studies, and Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

Rorden Wilkinson is Professor of Global Political Economy and Chair of the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. His books include What’s Wrong with the WTO and How to Fix it (2014), International Organization and Global Governance (2014), Trade, Poverty, Development (2013), The Millennium Development Goals and Beyond (2012), Global Governance, Poverty and Inequality (2010), The WTO: Crisis and the Governance of Global Trade (2006), The Global Governance Reader (2005), and Global Governance: Critical Perspectives (2002). He co-edits the Global Institutions series.

Michael C. Williams is Research Professor of International Politics in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Ottawa. His research interests are in International Relations theory, security studies, and political thought. His most recent book is Security beyond the State: Private Security in International Politics (2011, with Rita Abrahamsen), while his previous publications include The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations (2005) and Culture and Security: Symbolic Power and the Politics of International Security (2007) and, as editor, Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans J. Morgenthau in International Relations (2007).

William C. Wohlforth is Daniel Webster Professor of Government at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. He is the author or editor of eight books and some sixty articles and book chapters on topics ranging from the Cold War and its end to unipolarity and contemporary US grand strategy. He is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations and has served as a consultant for the National Intelligence Council and the National Bureau of Asian Research. His most recent book, co-authored with Stephen G. Brooks, is America Abroad: The United States’ Global Role in the 21st Century (Oxford, 2016).

Oran R. Young is Professor Emeritus at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California, Santa Barbara. One of the founders of regime analysis, his research interests focus on theories of environmental governance with applications to climate change, the oceans, and the polar regions as well as environmental governance in China and the US. Among his recent books are Institutional Dynamics: Emergent Patterns in International Environmental Governance (2010) and On Environmental Governance: Sustainability, Efficiency, and Equity (2013). His current project is entitled Governing Complex Systems: Sustainability in the Anthropocene.