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II. Power Politics and (Neo-)Realism within the Field of International Relations

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Chapter Summary

After 1919, analysis of international relations developed into an independent, scientific discipline within the academy. In the first decades of its development, two tendencies shaped the main theories of international relations: 'idealism' and 'realism'. After 1945, in addition to the analysis of the East-West conflict, economic internationalisation was the main starting point for theoretical considerations within IR. John H. Herz played an important role in further developing classical realism into neorealism. In the 1970s, Kenneth Waltz became the most important proponent of neorealism. He discussed imperialist power politics as a universal result of interstate conflict and shifts the focus of analysis, in contrast to Morgenthau's 'foreign policy theory', to the level of the 'international system', from whose structures he extrapolates state behaviours. Waltz zeroes in on a relative distribution of power and discusses unipolar, bipolar or multipolar power relations. Adaptations of neorealism after 1989 are briefly discussed in the chapter.

Keywords: East-West conflict; idealism; international relation; John H. Herz; Kenneth Waltz; Morgenthau's foreign policy theory; multipolar power relation; neorealism; power politics

10.1163/9789004262225_005
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