State In International Relations Theory

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A thousand years scarce serve to form a state; An hour may lay it in the dust, and when Can Man its shattered splendour renovate Recall its virtues back, and vanquish Time and Fate? —Lord Byron, from “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” Introduction The term International Relations is synonymous with Inter-State Relations. The state has long been regarded as the most significant actor on the world stage, the basic ‘unit’ of global politics. It is a historical institution; that emerged in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe as a system of centralised rule that succeeded in subordinating all other institutions and groups, temporal and spiritual. The Peace of Westphalia (1648)…show more content…
It implies a focus on the relations between territorial states in contrast to processes going on within state territorial boundaries. Three geographical assumptions made regarding states are a) they are fixed units of sovereign space, b) domestic/foreign polarity and c) societies contained in states. The merging of the state with a clearly bounded territory is the geographical essence of the field of international relations. The intellectual taxonomy of the field of political science that emerged in the aftermath of the First World War led to the emergence of international and domestic as separate areas of specialisation. The ‘international’ (inter-state) was theorised as separate and distinct from the national/domestic, requiring a more homogeneous and uniform conception of the state as an actor from that adopted by students of ‘domestic’ political and restricted to studying relations between territorial states (Carr, 1939). There was a distinction drawn between the form of political order within the state characterised by hierarchy compared to that between states guided by anarchy. In International Relations theory, the second aspect has been…show more content…
Globalisation is an expansion and intensification of cross-border activities, trans-national actions and global exchanges that are changing many aspects of international relations. For some scholars like Susan Strange, Peter Van Ham and Graeme Gill globalisation is transforming the state in many ways. The argument is that the structural changes of globalisation are fundamentally changing the nature of the sovereign state. The de-territorialization of many activities, including economic exchanges like the transfer of money, may be undermining the authority of the state. Arguably, technological innovations such as the development of the Internet have also undermined aspects of the state because it allows people to spread information and news, offer dissenting voices to a global audience, sell and buy goods, and transfer money instantly with little control by the state. State transformation may mean that the state increases its surveillance function through the introduction of biometric passports and identity cards, use of lists to identify or target specific groups in society, and to increase its monitoring of people moving from one state into another. Despite arguments that the effects of globalisation may be undermining the authority of the sovereign state, states remain important actors in contemporary global
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