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The pertinence of international relations

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Established as a distinct academic discipline at the end of the second world war, International Relations has above all been concerned with analysing relations between sovereign states - in the first instance, the causes of war between them and alternative forms of cooperation. Throughout its history, IR has been dominated by ‘realism’, an approach based on a juridical totalizing concept of the state. This denies the relevance of factors located within polities and societies and stresses the primacy of security issues in inter-state relations. More recent work in the field has sought to analyse the interaction of the domestic and the international and to explore the interaction of security with other, most evidently economic, factors. The relation of 1R to political science is defined by the shared concern with the ‘pertinence’ of the international; that is, how far specific political and social systems are, and are not, affected and determined by factors beyond their frontiers and how these forms of international influence are changing in the contemporary world.

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