1. To ‘study’ international relations is to undertake a very broad concept that is both multifaceted and multidisciplinary. International relations involves analysis of the world and its actors to determine why events occur and how they might develop. I will explain the study of international relations in three parts. First, I will discuss the players or actors that international relations scholars study. Second, I will discuss what these scholars seek to achieve. Last, I will cover how the viewpoints of scholars might affect their analysis.
International relations is the study of relations between states, but also between states and non-state organizations, and between states and intergovernmental organizations (Wilkinson, Paul 2007, 1). States can be defined as “A political actor that has sovereignty and a number of characteristics, including territory, population, organization, and recognition” (Rourke and Boyer 2010, G–11). Non-state organizations can be defined as non-profit organizations, such as churches or Red Cross. A good example of an intergovernmental organization, an organization whose members have international presence, would be the United Nations. Since international relations is such a dynamic concept, more players are introduced all the time. For instance, multinational corporations are corporations which have branches in other countries, such Nissan or Exxon are rising to such significance that they are studied as actors as well.
Scholars that study international relations seek to achieve a considerable amount. International relations scholars seek to make generalizations of a historical period (Yetiv,Steve 2011, 97). These scholars also seek to apply theories to world events, for instance, asking what the motivations behind the actions of global powers are. These scholars will also seek to build theories to explain why events occur. One of the last goals for international relations scholars that I’ll discuss is the attempt at making predictions for the future. For instance, the analysis of whether or not the U.S. will remain a global power.
Affecting the study and work of the scholars is their viewpoint. Their viewpoint will affect their theory building, analysis, and predictions. If the scholar is a realist, they will look for selfish motivations of superpowers, looking out for itself in all of its actions. If they have a liberalist point of view they will have a Utopian view, believing in interdependence and mutual relations. Should the scholar believe in constructivism then they will not only poke holes in the work or realism, but they will seek to deconstruct events down to why certain elements exist at all. They believe that cultures and ideals drive most of the world’s policies, procedures, and relations.
To study international relations is to really take an in depth look at the world. It isn’t enough to note that an event happened. The scholar must ask why and pose the questions “What will happen next?” This...