Last Updated 26 Jan 2021

Neo-Realism vs Neo-Liberalism

Category Liberalism, Realism
Essay type Research
Words 829 (3 pages)
Views 414

Kayla Ferry Political Science 150 Dr. Byron October 5, 2010 1) Neo-realism, also known as structural realism see international politics as a power struggle between states. Conflicts between states and security competition are due to a lack of “an overarching authority above states and the relative distribution of power in the international system” (Dunne 98). Scholar Kenneth Waltz defined the structure of the international system in three elements: organizing principle, differentiation of units, and distribution of capabilities.To structural realists the distribution of capabilities gives important insight to grasping international outcomes, and the relative distribution of power in the international system is the strategic variable to understanding such outcomes.

Structural realists argue that the number of great powers that exists concludes the structure of the international system. Waltz describes the structure as the “ordering principle of the international system, which is anarchy and the distribution capabilities across units, which are states” (Dunne 127).Neo-realists also believe the structure of the international system shapes all foreign policy choices and see power as the collective competences of the states. In other words the more power a state has in the international system the more influence they have on world affairs. However the flaw that accompanies neo-realism, is the increase of the application of “self-help”, a. k. a.

increase of military security. Neo-liberalist agrees largely with the views and beliefs of neo-realists, “the anarchic international structure, the centrality of states, and a rationalist approach to social scientific inquiry” (Dunne 115).The main difference between the two theories is neo-liberalist believe that anarchy does not mean the arrangements of cooperation are impossible. International regimes are the implementer for cooperation. Arguments made by neo-liberalists believe that academic inquiry is guided by a commitment to a scientific approach to theory building. In other words, personal beliefs and views cannot alter hypothesis made towards international politics. A separation of fact and values is the only way to insure an accurate theory.

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According the neo-liberalist, “the post-1945 orld order has been successful and durable because US hegemony has been of a liberal character” (Dunne 117). The downside of the hegemonic power is it has produced unequal gains for the West and the rest of the world. It is unresponsive to the needs of weaker states and people, which is seen with how the hegemonic power flexes its authority by the controlling of institutions, markets and resources. In contemporary international system, the application of the neo-liberal theory is apparent throughout foreign policy.Even in President Bush’s speech on the after math of 9/11. 2) Although neo-realism and neo-liberalism theories both agree that the international system is anarchic, they differ on all other accounts. Neo-realists believe that anarchy puts more constraints on foreign policy.

Neo-realists also argue that neo-liberals overlook the importance of relative gains, and the most important goal of states in cooperation with each other is to prevent others from gaining more.With neo-realism, advocates believe that in the international system, anarchy forces states to be more concerned with relative power, security and survival. According to neo-realists, capabilities of states are a necessity for the security and independence of a state, and by not knowing another states intentions or interests forces other states to focus on their capabilities. In regards to institutions and regimes, neo-liberals “claim that they facilitate cooperation, and neo-realists say that they do not mitigate the constraining effects of anarchy on cooperation” (Dunne 133).The neo-neo debate goes back and forth and many other topics, only because they study different worlds of international politics. Globalization has raised even more concerns for neo-realists, largely because they are more cautious about cooperation and see the world and its politics as very competitive. It is clear, in my opinion that neo-liberalism is by far the better theory.

It allows the more powerful states to boost their economy, increase a state’s gains and gives states more influence on foreign policy. 3) Marxism gives a different view of world politics.Marxists believe that the world should be studied as a whole, and that the process of historical change is an effect of the economic development of the society. It is a different view of the world politics since it focuses more on economies of key states. Constructivists believe that the world is socially constructed, allowing them to investigate global change and transformation. This provides constructivists to use diffusion, which concerns how “particular models, practices, norms, strategies, or beliefs spread within a population” (Dunne 168).Institutional isomorphism (an issue that is observed by conservatisms, sees that the organizations that contain similar environments will eventually resemble each other), and internalization of norms (the belief that what is considered normal for a society, does not come out of nowhere but evolves through a political process), raise issues of an increasing homogeneity in world politics, a closer international community and socialization process.

These different theories provide a different grasp and insight on world politics, allowing the liberalism theory to be better molded and applied to a larger area of the international system.

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Neo-Realism vs Neo-Liberalism. (2018, Oct 28). Retrieved from

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