Conditions of Use
The text is comprehensive, covering both the major paradigms introduced in the traditional IR classroom and additional perspectives that may need to be integrated more into the classroom for students to have a fuller comprehension of the academic... read more
The text is comprehensive, covering both the major paradigms introduced in the traditional IR classroom and additional perspectives that may need to be integrated more into the classroom for students to have a fuller comprehension of the academic field and the practice of international relations. Individual instructors can choose which chapters to include in their course based on their own needs in the classroom and pedagogical goals. Still, the editors acknowledge that the theoretical perspectives included in this book are not exhaustive of IR theory. From my perspective, there are a couple of glaring omissions. One is the lack of a chapter on race. Although elements of race are integrated into some of the chapters (such as that on postcolonialism), there are now many texts available that talk about the importance of this paradigm for the study of IR, so it warrants its own stand-alone chapter. Another omission is psychological perspectives. These are both paradigms I use in the classroom and this book would be more useful for my purposes if it included such chapters. The text divides theories among the three categories of traditional (realism and liberalism), middle (English school and constructivism) and critical (all the others). In the classroom I divide theories among the individual, domestic, and systemic (or structural) levels of analysis. Although either type of categorization you use (or any you choose to use) has its advantages and disadvantages, any instructor seeking to assign this book as a whole, rather than individual chapters, should be aware of this in order to consider whether it matches their approach. Instructors may also need to supplement the text with some background information about what a theory is, particularly in the social sciences. For example, the difference between deterministic and probabilistic theories, and empirical and normative theories. As well as the difference between a theory and a theoretical program or paradigm.
One goal of this text is simplicity, to introduce IR theoretical programs in a way that is readily accessible to undergraduates. In practice this means that some of the complexities of the programs are not discussed. Individual instructors may find this useful but also limiting at times. After gaining an understanding of the common core assumptions in a “theory family,” more attention may need to be given to specific distinctions or contradictions across theories within paradigms.
Each chapter includes both a theoretical overview and a case study, either historical or contemporary but focused on the 20th or 21st century. New chapters to represent additional paradigms could be added to the expansion pack easily.
The text is appropriately written for undergraduate students, in either an introductory international relations course or an upper-level course focused on IR theory. The editors also include a useful section in the introductory chapter about how to study most effectively with focus and the ability to retain or return to important information later, as well as how to assess sources. There is no glossary of terms. There is also no index, following the practice of the E-IR textbook series. But a student can search for a word using the pdf format of the book or an e-book app, as the note on the last page of the text describes.
All chapters in the book follow a common framework and use of terminology.
It is very easy to use this text modularly. I have assigned individual chapters without needing to assign the introductory chapter or any other chapters. Although all chapters fit within a general framework so can be used together, each is also a stand-alone contribution.
There is an introductory chapter that provides an overview of the book as a whole as well as a summary of the main theoretical schools included. There is then an ordering of chapters across the traditional, middle, and critical categories. But an instructor can easily reorder the chapters according to any flow that best suits their needs in the classroom.
The book is solely text, by purposeful design, to avoid what the editors perceive as the distractions of charts and pictures.
I did not discover any major grammatical errors.
I did not discover any culturally insensitive or offensive material. Still, none of the contributors are based in the countries mentioned as having major burgeoning IR programs outside the West: China, India, Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia.
Overall, this textbook is an important addition to those available in the IR field and can be used in whole or in part to supplement other course material in an introductory international relations course or upper-level IR theory course.
The book covers all IR theories and some, it is the most comprehensive volume I have come across in this regard. It does not limit itself to theories but endorses "perspectives " as well (More on this below). On the other hand, the book does not... read more
The book covers all IR theories and some, it is the most comprehensive volume I have come across in this regard. It does not limit itself to theories but endorses "perspectives " as well (More on this below). On the other hand, the book does not include an index. This is only available in electronic format and students who own a hard copy need to download the index so as to get access to it. Instructions are given on the volume's last page.
This is a very good volume and a welcome addition to a literature on IR theory textbooks that has long been dominated by mainstream approaches to the detriment of alternative voices. The structure of the book is clear and crisp, allowing for the basics of each theory to shine through and thus offering students an easy-to-reach starting point should they wish to dwell further on any of these theories.
The book will not be made obsolete any time soon. It is very rich in content and includes all sorts of theoretical perspectives. The subject matter helps in that regard - International Relations theories have multiplied in recent decades but that is a slow-moving process. The book's shelf-life is therefore likely to be long.
This is probably the volume's biggest advantage. With very few exceptions that do not negate the overall impression, authors use a largely jargon-free language that makes their chapters accessible to students. This should allow at least some students to become more interested in IR theory and hopefully engage with it systematically going forward.
The volume is largely consistent. Given the diversity of authors contributing to it, the book does a very good job in using key concepts clearly and effectively.
I wonder if the attempt to be inclusive eventually backfires. The high number of Critical Theories, all of which get their own stand-along chapter, may prove too much for an undergraduate IR student. Further, the chapters on “perspectives” do not work well. Is there really an “Asian” perspective in IR? Should we go down the path of identifying a specific tradition pertaining to the discipline in each geographic region, with all the problems that such a simplification would entail? My answer is no, and that is despite the very welcome attempt by most authors in this volume to move IR theory scholarship beyond the western-centric lenses that have dominated the discipline for too long. In practical terms, the “perspectives” section serves, in my humble opinion, little purpose given that Amitav Acharya’s excellent 10th chapter addresses most of the issues contained in that section of the book.
The first part of the book provides a concise summary of all major theories and some. Yet with the exception of the chapters on Realism, Liberalism, the English School and partly Marxism, none of the other theories entails a short critique or counterargument to those theories’ assumptions. That is problematic as it weakens the stated purpose of the editors for students to avoid dogmatism and refrain from adopting any on IR theory as “their own”. It is refreshing and important to include non-mainstream theories in a textbook, and the second part of the book delivers on this promise.
A limitation of the book is the absence of any graph, figure or picture. The editors clarify this issue from the start and make an argument for their choice. Yet in today’s visual culture and given the association between text and picture that our cognitive perception is accustomed to, such an omission places an undue burden on students’ own effort to connect the dots. Why not entail graphs and bullet points to summarize key arguments? Visually complementing a written text traditionally works well for entry-level subjects. Although the editors' attempt to force students to take notes themselves is laudable, students would benefit from a concise summary at the end of each chapter. This is especially true for this book, given its comprehensive coverage of eighteen different IR theories. Entry-level students are likely to get confused, and it is unrealistic to expect all of them to read each chapter thoroughly, hence the need for key points at the end of each chapter.
The mix of senior and junior scholars is refreshing, allowing for contemporary approaches to IR theory to blend with more traditional perspectives. The team of authors is mostly UK-based but has enough of representation from other parts of the world to claim that this is an international volume. On the other hand, and that is a limitation for a book that seeks to accommodate “mainstream” and non-mainstream theories and views, only two of the authors in this volume are based outside the West.
I enjoyed reading this volume. It is very comprehensive and reader-friendly. It comes with a lot of advantages for students and allows for a critical enquiry as to the content and assumptions that IR theories come with.
The editors here provide a comprehensive overview of the varied theoretical perspectives that can be found within the discipline of international relations. They begin with the established theories (e.g. realism and liberalism) that have dominated... read more
The editors here provide a comprehensive overview of the varied theoretical perspectives that can be found within the discipline of international relations. They begin with the established theories (e.g. realism and liberalism) that have dominated thought in the field historically, but then delve into numerous critical perspectives that are often not discussed in detail, or at all, in traditional IR textbooks (e.g. green theory, critical geography, indigenous perspectives). The editors also include a few chapters at the end of the text that serve its readers by contextualizing the competing theories presented, and some of the theoretical contests that persist within the discipline. The chapters are well cited, written, and detailed giving students new to the field a relatively easy entry point into the discipline's rich theoretical foundations while not overwhelming the reader overly burdensome jargon. While the coverage of the number of IR theories presented is rich, the depth and detail provided is somewhat sparse. I think the text best serves as a centerpiece in which additional "outside" readings are used to supplement the theoretical core that is presented here. The indexing here is admittedly limited for hard copy editions of this text (which the authors readily admit), but the authors do point the reader toward solutions utilizing the PDF versions of the text.
Each theory is given its own chapter and as an entry point this serves its readers well. The content presented is fairly clear, concise, and bereft of any controversy from an academic perspective. I would argue, however, that relative brevity of each contribution may not give its readers a complete view of each theory presented. Now in many cases, especially when one is trying to introduce these many theories, this text is fine and will certainly serve its purpose. There may be cases, however, where more depth and detail is desired or warranted. For instance, the chapter on realism misses out on the depth and richness of the realist project. There is no detailed discussion of offensive, defensive, or neoclassical realism, and consequently these areas would need to be supplemented by a professor that wants to delve more deeply into realism (and other theories). The depth I am writing of here, however, is not the aim of this text - it provides an introduction to theories - but I do think this is something one should consider when considering how best to incorporate this text into any course offering they may be planning.
International Relations Theory gives us a good balance of both the foundations of each theory and its modern applications. Some theories can trace their origins backs millennia while others were "born" in living memory. The authors give its readers a balance of both the foundational works, but also its more recent additions, innovations, controversies, and paths forward. The nature of the material itself, as well as its recent publication, suggest that this text could be used for quite some time without any need for major revisions or additional readings to keep the theories contained relevant for years to come.
Each chapter is written by a different author, but the overall style and tone of the chapters seamlessly meld together presenting a coherent whole. The selections provided here give novices an accessible entry into the discipline by avoiding unnecessary jargon and detail which often serves to detract, rather than enhance the reading and learning experience for undergraduates. Arguably, this text and its chapters are best used to supplement an introduction to IR course where professors seek to include more, or diverse, IR perspectives. To this end, this text serves its purpose. I would, however, argue that more detail and depth is needed if one were to use this text as the only (or main) reading for a text designed for an IR Theory course designed for political science/IR majors in an advanced course.
The text consists of theories and perspectives that are often engaged in a conversation about how global politics works. This results in each chapter (theory) often having a different starting point, and in some cases directly contesting what was posited in previous chapters. While this could be confusing to someone entering the field, the text does a good job of keeping the reader focused on each theory being presented, and the editors synthesize these theories into a coherent view of the discipline.
The text shines in this aspect of its organization. International Relations Theory possesses 20 distinct chapters, of which 18 of the chapters, cover distinct IR theories ranging the so-called traditional theories (realism) to middle ground theories (English School) to numerous examples of critical theory. Each chapter is easily digestible and gives the reader a relatively pain-free introduction to IR theories. Consequently, this text serves as an excellent spring board for any professor seeking to create their own IR theory course utilizing any of the chapters as they please, while extending and expanding the scope as the will.
The flow of the text is presented in what most in the field (I would think) is a logical progression. Building upon the foundational theories of the discipline the editors then proceed to unveil the theoretical progression of the discipline from its historical roots to the modern day.
International Relations Theory is well written and easily accessible to any reader. The typeface and formatting are straightforward and do not present any major pitfalls for its readers. One thing missing, however, are opportunities to include pictures, diagrams, tables and similar items that could be used to more clearly depict the concepts, terms, assumptions, and relationships within and between the numerous theories presented here. While their absence does not detract from the text, their addition would certainly assist some initiates to the discipline.
The text is clean and well written.
This entry provides its readers with a wide array of views. This diversity of thought is not limited only to the number of theories, but also the types of theories included. For instance, several chapters directly and indirectly engage the prominence given to Western IR theories. Non-Western perspectives are given a fair amount of attention in this text, including entries on global, Asian, Global South, and Indigenous perspectives.
The text is extremely comprehensive, if not overly so. Some of the theories covered are a bit far-fetched. Some of the examples used are limited or not included where they would be in other introductory texts on IR theory. For example, there is no... read more
The text is extremely comprehensive, if not overly so. Some of the theories covered are a bit far-fetched. Some of the examples used are limited or not included where they would be in other introductory texts on IR theory. For example, there is no mention of the Kantian Triangle and in the realism chapter, the author mentions Thucydides, but really does not provide any context for why his writings are argued to form the roots of realism. The book does not contain an index or glossary, but terms are relatively well defined within the text so that students could reasonably find definitions, although there are no boxes or bold letters as one might find in a traditional textbook.
Overall, the context is accurate. I believe some of the discrepancies can be attributed to differing perspectives in IR scholars. For example, chapter 6, entitled critical theories, indeed addresses critical theories, but makes some of the theories covered in other chapters appear to not be critical theories, such as Marxism and feminism because those theories are not covered explicitly within the critical theory chapter.
The content and examples provided are extremely up to date. The format of the chapters, with the basic explanations at the beginning and the contextual example toward the end makes it easy and straightforward to update should the need arise.
The text is well written and accessible for nearly any level of reader. Any use of jargon/technical terminology is well defined, although not always as obvious in this text as it might be in other textbooks (e.g. with boxes, definitions in the margins, etc.).
The text is extremely consistent in its presentation of the theories. Each chapter provides an explanation of the theories and historical context and follows with a clear and relevant example.
The book is very well formatted for modularity in a syllabus. That is, an instructor can easily pick and choose the relevant theories to assign for the course. This makes it incredibly desirable. Additionally, there is not an excessive amount of references to other theories within each chapter (which some may see as a weakness for comparison purposes), but that means that it is possible to learn about one theory (say feminism) without having to have read the chapters on realism and liberalism. Each of the chapters has very few subheadings, but I think this is appropriate.
Overall, the theories are presented in a clear fashion. The exception to this is the discussion of critical theories, which appears as chapter 6 and should probably be sooner, perhaps before the discussion of constructivism. Additionally, the division between "Established Theories" and the "Expansion Pack" seems a bit odd to me and is more of a reflection of the editors' own delineation of what is established vs. "expansion" in the discipline. One organizational issue is that all of the references are found at the end rather than at the end of each chapter, making it more difficult for students to pursue original source material.
No interface issues found during the review.
No grammatical errors found during the review.
The book does a great job in including many theories that other texts often omit, highlighting opportunities in international relations to be more inclusive. The examples used are also well-rounded and not completely Western-centric.
This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the various theories of International Relations, ranging from traditional perspectives such as Realism and Liberalism to newer and emerging theories, including Green Theory, Queer Theory, and... read more
This book provides a comprehensive introduction to the various theories of International Relations, ranging from traditional perspectives such as Realism and Liberalism to newer and emerging theories, including Green Theory, Queer Theory, and Securitization Theory.
The theoretical foundations presented are accurate and reflect the views of scholars in those fields, including women and people of color.
The theoretical content is very current and each chapter offers an empirical example or case study of the theory as applied to a contemporary event. For example, a brief discussion of the Islamic State and global conflict illustrates the nature of Realism and an overview of migration and refugees illuminates the chapter on Marxism.
The text is engaging and well-written, as well as accessible to an introductory class, and the book defines and explains terms specific to the field of International Relations.
The book's structure is uniform and consistent. The Introduction provides brief definitions of each International Relations theory, followed by a chapter on each theory. The established or classic theories of IR are explained clearly and each chapter includes a case study. The newer, evolving theories are presented in a second section of chapters that follow this pattern.
Because the chapters are not overly dense or lengthy, they are suitable for assigned readings in an IR course. Each chapter is independent of the others and students need not have read the preceding chapters to understand later chapters, so an instructor could easily rearrange the order of the chapters as reading assignments.
The structure of the book is well-organized and consistent. Each chapter follows the same method of presenting a specific IR theory.
There are no interface or navigation problems with this book, as each theory is presented in a stand-alone chapter. The book does not contain any boxes, maps, charts, or images to distract from the material, and frankly, such extraneous matter would not be helpful.
There are a handful of typographical errors, but nothing that detracts from understanding the text.
The material is not presented in a culturally biased or insensitive manner and the references include significant authors in the field who are female and/or people of color.
This book provides a mostly thorough understanding on the topic of IR theories with a diverse and highly-qualified set of authors from universities around the world. The myriad of intellectual styles contributes nicely to a book that feels more... read more
This book provides a mostly thorough understanding on the topic of IR theories with a diverse and highly-qualified set of authors from universities around the world. The myriad of intellectual styles contributes nicely to a book that feels more like an edited volume and less like a standard textbook (but this is a positive). Students will find thorough and salient discussions of the influence of various theories in the 21st century, and how the development of certain theories were motivated by previous schools of thought.
I found most of the content to be accurate and free from error. I also did not see any broad ideological bias, but certain chapters did "lean" towards the left. I was surprised, however, to see a discussion of intersectionality in Sheila Nair's chapter on "Postcolonialism" without attribution to Kimberle Crenshaw, the scholar who coined the term. While Nair does cite bell hooks, the lack of a Crenshaw citation is troubling.
In its current form, the book IS relevant and timely. Updates will most likely be required every two years, but can be supplemented by online readings (which are already available). Since the first half of the textbook focuses on "established theories," the text cannot become obsolete.
The text and its editors have done a marvelous job asking the chapter authors to unpack each theory in concise and cogent ways. From that perspective, this textbook is accessible by undergraduates as well as graduate students.
While there are many authors with many different writing styles, I found the book overall to be consistent.
This is probably the best feature of this textbook. I would suggest my colleagues offer just the introduction in certain courses; it provides an overview of key theories; makes suggestions about study skills; and references online resources to help those still struggling to understand. The modularity also works because the book can be broken up by chapter, but also paragraphs within each chapter, and can be assigned out of sequence.
I am not fully convinced that splitting the book into "established" versus "emerging" approaches is the best way to organize this book. Doing so results in an awkward situation where students might be led to believe that the second half of the book is experimental while the first half is tried and true. While there are some political scientists and diplomats who might like to think so, undergrad students might be confused.
I found the book very easy to read and navigate.
There are occasional punctuation and grammatical errors, but nothing that takes away from the project as a whole.
The book does an excellent job of respecting cultural, ethnic, sexual, and racial differences, and I found it mostly inclusive. I did appreciate the detailed discussion in Benabdallah et al.'s chapter on the "Global South" on the omission of African theorists from IR, and why it is impossible to reduce a multi-generational and cultural legacy to one singular "African theory." I would have appreciated a more diverse tone in Yeophantang's chapter on "Asian Perspectives" because it was too reductive; India, China, and Japan do not make Asia. Here again the author posits that a single unifying "Asian theory" of IR is absurd, but I believe the absurdity is focusing only on a few countries and presuming they speak for others. Doing so minimizes Asian political theoretical influence ... which is precisely what the author wanted to avoid.
I was surprised to see no discussion of white nationalism in the textbook. I can understand that the term has gained popularity since the election of President Trump, but white nationalism affects global politics. It has influenced rhetoric, violence, elections, campaigns, public opinion, and policy across the world. White nationalism and its connection to Islamophobia, "replacement theory," and antisemitism must be mentioned in ANY work on international relations theory.
Yes, it is definitely comprehensive. Maybe a bit too comprehensive, with some of the theories being from really far afield. It will be up to the instructor to guide the students in understanding which theories are the mainstream ones, which are... read more
Yes, it is definitely comprehensive. Maybe a bit too comprehensive, with some of the theories being from really far afield. It will be up to the instructor to guide the students in understanding which theories are the mainstream ones, which are the key challengers, and which ones are more of curiosities rather than leaders in IR scholarship. Spelling this out in the intro would be helpful to the uninitiated readers, so that they are not lost in the sea of theories presented.
The content is unbiased for the most part.
Yes, this is something that can definitely be built on, which could be done easily.
Yes, no issues here.
Pretty much. There are a lot of different chapter writers, so some inconsistency is to be expected. This will be more of an issue for IR beginners than experienced readers used to various IR terminologies.
This is one of the strongest assets of this book. An instructor can definitely and easily pick and choose among the many theoretical options provided.
Yes. This is basically a list of various IR theories, with the mainstream ones being up front and the others following. Such organization makes good sense.
No such issues were noticed.
Maybe a few here and there, but nothing of major concern.
The book does well on this score.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Getting Started With International Relations Theory (Stephen Mcglinchey, Rosie Walters & Dana Gold)
Part One – Established Theories
- Realism (Sandrina Antunes & Isabel Camisão)
- Liberalism (Jeffrey W. Meiser)
- The English School (Yannis A. Stivachtis)
- Constructivism (Sarina Theys)
- Marxism (Maïa Pal)
- Critical Theory (Marcos Farias Ferreira)
- Poststructuralism (Aishling Mc Morrow)
- Feminism (Sarah Smith)
- Postcolonialism (Sheila Nair)
- Towards A Global Ir? (Amitav Acharya)
Part Two – Expansion Pack
- Green Theory (Hugh C. Dyer)
- Global Justice (Alix Dietzel)
- Queer Theory (Markus Thiel)
- Securitisation Theory (Clara Eroukhmanoff)
- Critical Geography (Irena Leisbet Ceridwen Connon & Archie W. Simpson)
- Asian Perspectives (Pichamon Yeophantong)
- Global South Perspectives (Lina Benabdallah, Victor Adetula & Carlos Murillo-Zamora)
- Indigenous Perspectives (Jeff Corntassel & Marc Woons)
- A Contemporary Perspective On Realism (Felix Rösch & Richard Ned Lebow
- The ‘Isms' Are Evil. All Hail The ‘Isms'! (Alex Prichard)
About the Book
This book is designed as a foundational entry point to International Relations theory – structured to condense the most important information into the smallest space and present that information in an accessible manner. The first half of the book covers the theories that are most commonly taught in undergraduate programmes. The book then expands to present emerging approaches and offer wider perspectives. Each chapter sets out the basics of a theory whilst also applying it to a real-world event or issue, creating a lively, readable and relevant guide that will help students to see not only what theories are – but why they matter.
About the Contributors
Dr Stephen McGlinchey is the Editor-in-Chief of E-International Relations and Senior Lecturer of International Relations at the University of the West of England, Bristol. He is the author of International Relations (2017) and US Arms Policies Towards the Shah’s Iran (2014).