Neoclassical Realism

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In this thorough book “Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics” that was published in the United States of America (2016), the three authors Norrin M. Ripsman, Jeffrey W. Taliaferro and Steven E. Lobell show how their way of thinking on neoclassical realist theory has advanced over the preceding decades. Ripsman, Taliaferro and Lobell’s main claim is that neoclassical realism was a single (unique) theory then it has changed and grown beyond this idea. In addition, this contains competitions, hypotheses, theories and concepts as well as suggesting a new ideal type of methodology and research methods which most matched with neoclassical realism. This book has divided into seven chapters, but it has evolved around three major themes:…show more content…
Moreover, the authors separate the neorealist theory into its elements in order to provide a guide to fellow researchers on how to reassemble and adapt the theory for different research projects. The first Chapter shows such a literature review of structural realism, classical realism and other works of neoclassical realism, outlines the neorealist account of foreign policy and sheds light on the problems attached to it. Under anarchy, according to neorealist, states’ policy choices are constrained by the systemic stimuli. Referring to Kenneth Waltz, faced with similar systemic stimuli, states despite having different regime types behave in a similar way. The authors have pointed out four gaps of the Waltzian idea of external determinism, namely perception and misperception, the clarity of signals, problems of rationality, and the need to mobilize state resources (pp. 20–24). Pointing out a major shortcoming, the authors have claimed that neither does the international system always show clear signals nor…show more content…
This chapter explains the methodology of the theory and covers identifying a suitable research question; clarifies the causes of believing in the idea that qualitative research methods are more suitable to neoclassical realist projects than quantitative methods. The international system is considered by neoclassical realists as an independent variable. Although the idea of the international system is similar to that of structural realism but, the nature of the strategic environment is different. Referring to neoclassical realism, the strategic environment has two major types: restrictive and permissive. The difference between these two belongs to the ‘imminence and magnitude of threats and opportunities that states face’ (p. 52). A restrictive environment is characterized by more imminent threats and opportunities while a permissive environment is identified by more remote and less intense threats and opportunities. In addition, the neoclassical realists also assign an essential role to structural modifiers. The structural modifiers such as technology, geography, innovations and nuclear weapons, among other things, are the variables that despite not being parts of the structure ‘can modify the effect of the system’s structure’ significantly (p. 40). Moreover, this chapter helps in finding an appropriate unit of analysis and it discusses historiography and process tracing as very concrete methods of case study analysis.
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