8.Actors in World Politics: Levels of Analysis (2016)

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Universidad Blanquerna (URL)
Grado Relaciones Internacionales - 2º curso
Asignatura Theory of International Relations
Año del apunte 2016
Páginas 2
Fecha de subida 13/04/2016
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Marta Busquets Theory of IR 2016 8. Actors in World Politics “The State and Foreign Policy”. Chapter 4 Brown, C. with K. Ainley (2009)  Understanding International Relations.
Basingstoke: Palgrave/Macmillian.
8.1. Levels of Analysis • A traditional way to study foreign policy: The Level-of-Analysis approach as the starting point.
• KENNETH WALTZ, studying the causes of war (Man, State and War, 1959): He was the first one to introduce the levels-of-analysis approach. In his point of view, there are three levels of analysis: I.
Man as the first (and individual) level of analysis. 
 Are human beings aggressive by nature? II. State understood as the second level of analysis, which is the grouping of men and women. 
 Are some states more prone to conflict than others? III. Structure / System as the third and last level of analysis, that for a neorealist, the structure is war. 
 Do conditions in international system lead to war? The Anarchical nature of the system makes war more possible.
SYSTEMIC LEVEL: There are certain conditions that prevail in international system (at the structural level), and they will have an impact in how the world works.
• Realists: Anarchy and competition. Distribution of power, self-help and balance of power.
• Liberalism: Cooperation because of international institutions and desire for prosperity.
• Constructivists: Criticism of social science based on positivist methodology (prediction and explanation of patterns and regularities of the world).
II. NATION-STATE LEVEL: Certain things help us to understand how the international system is shaped, such as the type of government, the state-society relations, bureaucracies, etc.
• Realists: What matters is the capacity of the government to accumulate power and mobilise power resources.
• Liberals: Emphasis on the influence of individuals, groups and organisations in society [Eg.
Obama, Bush and Gorbachov]. Existence of interdependence and coalitions as well as liberal peace. Rational actor model and bureaucratic politics.
III. INDIVIDUAL LEVEL: Ideas and values of particular decision-making leaders.
• Content of policy-makers beliefs: Obama, Bush, etc.
• Organisation and structure of beliefs: Variation over time. Obama wouldn’t have had the same impact in 2001 than in 2008 (right after 9/11 or right after the Irak war).
• Patterns of perceptions and view. The view of national security that the US had in 9/11 is not the same as the one they have today.
Marta Busquets Theory of IR 2016 • Change and learning: Cognitive approach vs Rational approach. The individual learns from other decisions and actions and changes if it is necessary.
Most of the theorists will focus on the second level of analysis, the State-Centric Approach: “A territorially-based political unit characterised by central decision-making and enforcement machinery, which is legally sovereign”, Brown, 2009.
Since Westphalia, the state system is what shapes the international system. The state as a concentration of power, use of violence or responsibility.
8.2. The Problems of a State-Centric Approach 8.1.1. LEVELS OF ANALYSIS A. The confusion over the meanings of the state and the lack of similarity between states.
There are different ways of understanding what a state is (country, nation, government or society?), as well as there is no similarity between states, as all of them are different and there are many kind of states (superpowers, middle powers, small powers, BRICs, etc).
B. The importance of regime types and the different international systems. Transnational relations shape the relations between states and the international system.
C. States shape developments in the international system, which means that states will define the way the system works: “Requirements” of the international system are not in line with developments, which means that you cannot rely only on the behaviour of states. The agents shape the structure, according to Constructivists. 
 Mearshimer says that European states, basing on national interests, would have to go through a conflictual period again, but this doesn’t happen.
D. States are not the only important actor in world politics: • Transnational companies • Non-governamental organisations • International Organisations.