International Relations: A Very Short Introduction (NEW edition)

ISBN : 9780198850212

Christian Reus-Smit
160 Pages
113 x 174 mm mm
Pub date
Apr 2020
Very Short Introductions


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  • Presents a new perspective on the nature of international relations, as more than just external relations between sovereign states
  • Provides the tools for thinking about large scale historical changes in international relations, particularly the transformation from a world of empires to a world of sovereign states
  • Demystifies theory, and treats it as an essential tool of analysis

International relations affects everyone's lives: their security, economic well-being, rights and freedoms, and the environment they share. Recently we have seen the transformation from a world of empires to today's world of sovereign states, which are enmeshed in a complex array of international institutions, all exercising degrees of political authority. The new global organization of political authority has far-reaching consequences.
This Very Short Introduction untangles this complex world, providing an accessible framework for understanding the contours of global political change. Christian Reus-Smit treats theory as an indispensable tool for grasping international relations, but demystifies theorizing, introducing it as an everyday human practice. He surveys a range of theories, from realism to feminism: reading them as contrasting perspectives on the global organization of political authority. Historically, such organization has been shaped by diverse social forces, four of which are discussed in detail: shifting patterns of warfare, changing economic conditions, struggles for rights, and the politics of culture. Reus-Smit concludes with a reflection on the future of international relations in an era of profound global change.


List of abbreviations
List of illustrations
List of maps
List of figures
1: What is international relations?
2: The global organization of political authority
3: Theory is your friend
4: War
5: Economy
6: Rights
7: Culture
8: Conclusion
Further reading

About the author: 

Christian Reus-Smit is Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Among his previous books, he is the author of On Cultural Diversity (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Individual Rights and the Making of the International System (Cambridge University Press, 2013), American Power and World Order (Polity Press, 2004), and The Moral Purpose of the State (Princeton University Press, 1999).

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