In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Academic Theories of International Relations Since 1945

  • Introduction
  • Textbooks
  • Journals

International Relations Academic Theories of International Relations Since 1945
Nick Rengger
  • LAST REVIEWED: 02 March 2011
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0043


This entry discusses the dominant academic theories of international relations (IR) from World War II onward. The focus is on theories that have largely developed within a formal academic setting, though there is no suggestion that these theories have no purchase or effect outside the academy. Some very clearly do. The chief claim is that theoretical debate, almost from the beginning of the field as a self-conscious area of study, has been a mixture of methodological and more general philosophical concerns—both ontological and epistemological. For the heuristic purposes of this section, however, these two areas are separated. After a brief overview, and a brief discussion of the most influential journals and textbooks, the bibliography concentrates first on the major ontological debates that have shaped academic IR theory since 1945, before moving on to consider the methodological debates, and then finally looking at the major substantive theoretical approaches to IR within the academy, not in terms of an approach-by-approach framework, but rather through major theoretical debates.

General Overviews

This section examines the origin and trajectories of the academic theoretical study of international relations (IR). The points made herein will then be picked up and elaborated in the specific discussions in other sections.

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