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Such views contrast sharply with the way in which Baran, Magdoff, and Sweezy approached the question of multinationals in the s. Multinationals remained linked to particular states and classes, for historical, political, and economic reasons that were unlikely to be transcended, since capitalism was inherently a system divided into nation-states as well as classes. The key issue here was control.

Nation-states mattered in this web of hierarchical relations, with some corporations and capitalists possessing more capital and thus more power than others. The notion that capital remained in significant respects nation-bound had deeper roots than just a statement about divisions based on nation-states.

States also protected the rights of their major corporate-economic entities abroad. Even mainstream economists like Kindleberger himself, who argued for the internationalization or transnationalization of capital, could not entirely escape the discussion of nation-states as crucial actors in the fates of corporations, or the codependent relations between corporations and particular states. Moreover, corporations exerted a push-and-pull power on those states in which they were headquartered, while frequently lording it over weaker states in which they introduced foreign direct investment.

Such an idealist stress on the transnational, rather than primarily nation-based, character of the multinational corporation was central to the business ideology in discussing these enterprises. Business Week —known for putting realism before ideology—was not quite as optimistic. The confused, banal, reductionist, idealist, and generally incoherent nature of the dominant accounts of multinational corporations all derived from the ideological requirement imposed on such establishment theories: somehow they had to explain the reality of international political-economic relations while excluding the main structural feature of that reality, namely, the imperialist world system.

It is this issue of imperialism in a world of monopoly capital that was the focus for Marxian and other radical scholars. In The Age of Imperialism , Magdoff explained that the great expansion of foreign direct investment coincided with the rise of U. Not surprisingly, foreign direct investment brought a net return of income back to the United States, in amounts that far exceeded the capital export itself.

Although much has changed with respect to the role of multinationals over the last four decades, this basic fact remains. The result has been a perpetuation and heightening of inequalities across national borders, instead of their elimination.

International Relations

That monopolistic corporations—along with the imperial states that supported them—could wield such power over nation-states in the periphery was emphasized by Amin in the edition of his Accumulation on a World Scale. In terms of its economic dimensions, the defining shift in global production under the new imperialism of globalized monopoly-finance capital has been the global labor arbitrage.

This has allowed a shift of manufacturing industry in recent decades from the global North to the global South, with the share of world industrial employment in the developing countries rising from 52 percent in s to 83 percent in , and the share of foreign direct investment in developing and transitional economies rising from 33 percent in to 51 percent by In addition, the global market is asymmetrical: although capital when not met by obstacles such as monopolistic controls by powerful firms or protectionism exercised by rich nations can move relatively freely, labor cannot.

Labor in general is largely confined within national borders—its movement restricted by immigration policies. This asymmetry allows multinationals to take advantage of immense labor price differences on a global level, and to possess more freedom in pursuing higher profits through the substitution of higher-paid labor with low-paid labor globally.

Such practices have increasingly become a major part of global value chains, with growth concentrated in the global South. Between and , NEM growth in several manufacturing sectors—including electronics, pharmaceuticals, and footwear—far exceeded the growth rate for global industry as a whole. Global labor arbitrage is not merely a survival tactic, but a means to maintain and expand the oligopolistic control of multinationals in their attempt to accumulate capital.

The result has been the creation of new forms of labor precariousness worldwide. Many IR feminists argue that the discipline is inherently masculine in nature. For example, in her article "Sex and Death in the Rational World of Defense Intellectuals" Signs , Carol Cohn claimed that a highly masculinized culture within the defence establishment contributed to the divorcing of war from human emotion. Feminist IR emerged largely from the late s onwards.

The end of the Cold War and the re-evaluation of traditional IR theory during the s opened up a space for gendering International Relations. However, the growing influence of feminist and women-centric approaches within the international policy communities for example at the World Bank and the United Nations is more reflective of the liberal feminist emphasis on equality of opportunity for women.

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Comparative Foreign Policy Analysis - Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics

International society theory, also called the English School, focuses on the shared norms and values of states and how they regulate international relations. Examples of such norms include diplomacy, order, and international law. Unlike neo-realism, it is not necessarily positivist. Theorists have focused particularly on humanitarian intervention, and are subdivided between solidarists, who tend to advocate it more, and pluralists, who place greater value in order and sovereignty. Jackson are perhaps the best known pluralists.

Lisa Ann Richey and Alexandra Budabin

Interest group theory posits that the driving force behind state behaviour is sub-state interest groups. Examples of interest groups include political lobbyists , the military, and the corporate sector. Group theory argues that although these interest groups are constitutive of the state, they are also causal forces in the exercise of state power.

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Strategic perspective is a theoretical [ citation needed ] approach that views individuals as choosing their actions by taking into account the anticipated actions and responses of others with the intention of maximizing their own welfare. The " inherent bad faith model " of information processing is a theory in political psychology that was first put forth by Ole Holsti to explain the relationship between John Foster Dulles ' beliefs and his model of information processing.

They are dismissed as propaganda ploys or signs of weakness. Post-structuralism theories of international relations developed in the s from postmodernist studies in political science.

Multinational Corporations and the Globalization of Monopoly Capital

Post-structuralism explores the deconstruction of concepts traditionally not problematic in IR such as "power" and "agency" and examines how the construction of these concepts shapes international relations. The examination of "narratives" plays an important part in poststructuralist analysis; for example, feminist poststructuralist work has examined the role that "women" play in global society and how they are constructed in war as "innocent" and "civilians".

See also feminism in international relations. Rosenberg's article "Why is there no International Historical Sociology" [23] was a key text in the evolution of this strand of international relations theory. Post-structuralism has garnered both significant praise and criticism, with its critics arguing that post-structuralist research often fails to address the real-world problems that international relations studies is supposed to contribute to solving. International relations are often viewed in terms of levels of analysis. The systemic level concepts are those broad concepts that define and shape an international milieu, characterized by anarchy.

Focusing on the systemic level of international relations is often, but not always, the preferred method for neo-realists and other structuralist IR analysts. Preceding the concepts of interdependence and dependence, international relations relies on the idea of sovereignty.

Described in Jean Bodin 's "Six Books of the Commonwealth" in , the three pivotal points derived from the book describe sovereignty as being a state, that the sovereign power s have absolute power over their territories, and that such a power is only limited by the sovereign's "own obligations towards other sovereigns and individuals". While throughout world history there have been instances of groups lacking or losing sovereignty, such as African nations prior to Decolonization or the occupation of Iraq during the Iraq War , there is still a need for sovereignty in terms of assessing international relations.


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The concept of Power in international relations can be described as the degree of resources, capabilities, and influence in international affairs. It is often divided up into the concepts of hard power and soft power , hard power relating primarily to coercive power, such as the use of force, and soft power commonly covering economics , diplomacy and cultural influence. However, there is no clear dividing line between the two forms of power.

Perhaps the most significant concept behind that of power and sovereignty, national interest is a state's action in relation to other states where it seeks to gain advantage or benefits to itself. Core or vital interests constitute the things which a country is willing to defend or expand with conflict such as territory, ideology religious, political, economic , or its citizens. Peripheral or non-vital are interests which a state is willing to compromise. For example, in the German annexation of the Sudetenland in a part of Czechoslovakia under the Munich Agreement , Czechoslovakia was willing to relinquish territory which was considered ethnically German in order to preserve its own integrity and sovereignty.

In the 21st century, the status-quo of the international system is no longer monopolized by states alone. Rather, it is the presence of non-state actors, who autonomously act to implement unpredictable behaviour to the international system. Whether it is transnational corporations , liberation movements , non-governmental agencies , or international organizations , these entities have the potential to significantly influence the outcome of any international transaction. Additionally, this also includes the individual person as while the individual is what constitutes the states collective entity, the individual does have the potential to also create unpredicted behaviours.

Al-Qaeda , as an example of a non-state actor, has significantly influenced the way states and non-state actors conduct international affairs.


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The existence of power blocs in international relations is a significant factor related to polarity. During the Cold War , the alignment of several nations to one side or another based on ideological differences or national interests has become an endemic feature of international relations. Unlike prior, shorter-term blocs, the Western and Soviet blocs sought to spread their national ideological differences to other nations.

Leaders like U. President Harry S. Truman under the Truman Doctrine believed it was necessary to spread democracy whereas the Warsaw Pact under Soviet policy sought to spread communism. After the Cold War, and the dissolution of the ideologically homogeneous Eastern bloc still gave rise to others such as the South-South Cooperation movement.

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Polarity in international relations refers to the arrangement of power within the international system. The concept arose from bipolarity during the Cold War , with the international system dominated by the conflict between two superpowers , and has been applied retrospectively by theorists. However, the term bipolar was notably used by Stalin who said he saw the international system as a bipolar one with two opposing powerbases and ideologies. Consequently, the international system prior to can be described as multipolar , with power being shared among Great powers. The collapse of the Soviet Union in had led to unipolarity, with the United States as a sole superpower, although many refuse to acknowledge the fact.

China's continued rapid economic growth in it became the world's second-largest economy , combined with the respectable international position they hold within political spheres and the power that the Chinese Government exerts over their people consisting of the largest population in the world , resulted in debate over whether China is now a superpower or a possible candidate in the future.

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However, China's strategic force unable of projecting power beyond its region and its nuclear arsenal of warheads compared to of the United States [28] mean that the unipolarity will persist in the policy-relevant future. Several theories of international relations draw upon the idea of polarity. The balance of power was a concept prevalent in Europe prior to the First World War , the thought being that by balancing power blocs it would create stability and prevent war.

Theories of the balance of power gained prominence again during the Cold War , being a central mechanism of Kenneth Waltz 's Neorealism. Here, the concepts of balancing rising in power to counter another and bandwagonning siding with another are developed. Robert Gilpin 's Hegemonic stability theory also draws upon the idea of polarity, specifically the state of unipolarity.

Hegemony is the preponderance of power at one pole in the international system, and the theory argues this is a stable configuration because of mutual gains by both the dominant power and others in the international system.