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Rethinking Realism in International Relations

, 320 pages

12 line drawings

August 2009



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Rethinking Realism in International Relations

Between Tradition and Innovation

This volume draws on the work of international scholars from diverse perspectives to provide a timely, focused debate on the future of realist theory in international relations.

Part I presents novel contributions to realist theory building, including suggested elaborations of Mearsheimer's offensive realist variant, a reconsideration of the role of revisionism in structural realist theory, a bridge to the English School of international relations, and a critique of trends in realist theorizing since the end of the Cold War. In part II, structural and neoclassical realists provide empirical analyses of foreign policy behavior, the role of geopolitics, and the grand strategies of major powers. The chapters in part III assess the viability of the ways forward for realism from realist, critical, and feminist perspectives.

This tightly integrated intellectual exchange presents a transnational overview of the evolution and potential future of the realist paradigm. The volume editors conclude with an assessment of the current state of realism and suggest ways for the debate to progress.

Annette Freyberg-Inan is an associate professor of political science at the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research, University of Amsterdam, and the author of What Moves Man: The Realist Theory of International Relations and Its Judgment of Human Nature. Ewan Harrison is an assistant dean in the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington University, St. Louis. He is the author of The Post Cold War International System: Strategies, Institutions, and Reflexivity and has published in Review of International Studies, International Studies Review, International Politics, International Affairs, and Journal of Peace Research. Patrick James is a professor with the School of International Relations at the University of Southern California, where he is also the director of the Center for International Studies. He is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of a number of books on international relations, including International Relations and Scientific Progress: Structural Realism Reconsidered and Who Intervenes? Ethnic Conflict and Interstate Crisis.

"This volume brings together some of the most interesting theoretical discussions the field has seen on realism in a number of years... the book provides the best overview of contemporary discourse on realism. The authors and editors break new ground and move beyond the old shibboleths. All those interested in the future of realism and whether (and how) it can move forward will want to read this book."

"All those who think that realism is an exhausted topic should take this book as antidote. Unusually balanced and varied, Rethinking Realism in International Relations unites realists and critics alike for pushing realism outside the beaten path."

"This is a rich book and a thoughtful one... Rethinking Realism will no doubt become essential reading on what is still the most intriguing school of thought on International Relations."

"The book's tight focus, comprehensive nature, and scene-setting introductory and concluding essays make it an invaluable resource for graduate students preparing to take comprehensive exams in the field. Highly Recommended."

"A valuable contribution to the study of world politics."