In can retain the monopoly of legitimate force to

In this essay, I will be analysing the role of the state within the three paradigms. In realism,
states are the most important actors in the international system. Only through its sovereignty,
can a state maintain its legitimate force to resolve conflicts between individuals and groups.
On the other hand, liberals believe that non-state actors are important within international
relations. Liberals argue that individuals and private groups will represent the interests of
society through the use of a government. Finally, structuralists assume that the concept of
class is the most influencing actor within international relations. They argue that there’s
conflict in the international system not because of anarchy, but instead of class conflicts.

Realists believe that states are key and the most crucial actors in International Relations.
States are the key unit of analysis. Understanding International Relations is through the study
of relations among these units. Only the state, by declaring its sovereignty, can retain the
monopoly of legitimate force to solve conflicts between individuals and groups within its
territory and also between itself and other states and international actors. Non-state actors
like international organisations, e.g. the United Nations, multi-national corporations, and
transnational actors are noticed by realists, but they are not as important compared to states.
States are the principal actors.

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The state can also be seen as a unitary actor. According to realists, a country faces the
international system as an integrated unit. A common belief among realism is that political
divisions within the state are easily resolved, especially if the government speaks on behalf
of the state with one voice. In regard to any issue, realists assume that the state as a unitary
actor has one policy. Realists advocate that the state is an integrated actor. For example,
when a foreign ministry voice policies different from the ministry of defence, an action is in
motion to bring these alternative positions to a common position. If the issue is not important,
alternative views can remain, but if it’s imperative, higher authorities will interfere to halt
those alternative views. States have an efficient autonomy from their national societies to
acknowledge and pursue the interests of the whole nation. They may develop some goals and
strategies that run counter to the preferences of important aspects of society to ensure
survival. Decision-makers defend the citizens of the nation-state against the opportunities
and dangers caused by the international system.

Moreover, the state is seen as a rational actor. States are concerned with goals and their goals

are coherent. This means that “given the goal of survival, states will act as best they can in

order to maximise their likelihood of continuing to exist.” (
International Relations,
Principal Theories

States make a cost-benefit analysis of every alternative and they assess those
alternatives and select the ones that increase their benefits. Therefore, states can change
their methods when it comes to change in external restrictions and chances. Nonetheless,
realists are alert of the limits of this claim; practically, governmental decision-makers may not
understand the need for achieving their goals.

Furthermore, the context of action is anarchy. For realists, “the international system is

defined by anarchy-the absence of a central authority.” (
International Relations,
Principal Theories

Slaughter, A. (2011).

. online Available at:

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

2017.

Slaughter, A. (2011).

. online Available at:

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

Does the state remain the most important actor in world politics today? Discuss in light of
the different approaches to the state provided by the three 20th Century paradigms
(Realism, Liberalism/Pluralism and Structuralism).

2017. This allows states to defend from one another, given the goal of survival. Thus, states

could also be known as self-help agents. They suggest that within the hierarchy of

international relations problems, national security is a number one priority. For realists,

military and related political issues dominate world politics as, “all states possess some

military capacity, and no state know what its neighbours intend precisely.” (

International Relations, Principal Theories

Likewise, states tend to balance against challenges through the formation of defensive

alliances, which is a strong behavioural expectation about the impact of anarchy on states. All

states, according to realists, help to enforce a balance of power strategy, “where a roughly

equal distribution of power amongst states ensures that none will risk attacking another.”

International Relations, Principal Theories

For example, the history of the European states illustrates the balance of power. In the
18th century, the principal states were the likes of Britain, France and Russia which frequently
changed sides to preserve the balance. Napoleonic France tried to destroy the European
balance and form a French hegemony only for it to be defeated by a European coalition.
Finally, the Concert of Europe 1815-1914, maintained peace through diverse and overlapping
alliances to guarantee a balance of power as a deterrent to war.

Liberalism is based on the assumption that actors could achieve a “peaceful world order”
within the international system, not through violence or insecurity that the realists argue.
Therefore, individuals are not prone to violence with one another, but instead, peace is quite
possible to achieve. Some have interpreted liberalism to go further than only saying it can be
a possibility, with some suggesting that war is “unnatural” as well as “irrational”. For example,
Burchill quotes Thomas Payne, who claims that people do want peace, but it is the
government who have a desire in creating wars. Burchill states, “war was a cancer on the
body politic… human beings had the capacity to cure the disease of war… with the medicines
of democracy and free trade.” (
Liberalism. online Available at:

Moreover, the rule of law can take
place. One could argue that the international human rights law, as well as international courts
such as the International Criminal Court, are non-military ways of achieving global justice and

cooperation.

Unlike political realism, which sees the state as the prime actor, liberalism views non-state

actors as highly central within the international system. This is because, “states represent

some dominant subset of domestic society, whose interest they serve.” (

International Relations, Principal Theories

Liberals disagree with realists about the sole importance of the state. While the state
does truly matter in the international system, individual actors are significant in international
relations. In relation to this, unlike realists, liberals believe that domestic politics should not
be overlooked. Thus, they emphasise the actions and interests of individuals and groups, and
namely these interests within a state. In comparison to realism, which highlights individual
loyalty to the overall state, liberalism argues otherwise, suggesting that beings have their own

(2011).

2017.

. online Available at:

Slaughter, A.

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

(Slaughter, A. (2011).

. online Available at:

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

2017.

Internationalrelations.org. (2017).

http://internationalrelations.org/liberalismpluralism/ Accessed 24 Jul. 2017.

(2011).

. online Available at:

Slaughter, A.

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

2017.

Does the state remain the most important actor in world politics today? Discuss in light of
the different approaches to the state provided by the three 20th Century paradigms
(Realism, Liberalism/Pluralism and Structuralism).

interests, which is often different from that of government leaders. Moreover, “survival may
very well remain a key goal, but commercial interests or ideological beliefs may also be
important” (
International Relations, Principal Theories

Liberalism clearly suggests that people within a society can have very different
calculated goals compared to a state leader/leaders; the concept of a unified domestic front
for a state does not exist or simply cannot exist.

These domestic “transmission belts” involve political parties, electoral systems and
bureaucracies. This counters realist claims about the state being a unified actor. Nonetheless,
this does not suggest that these individual interests are continually harmonious; some within
liberalism acknowledge the conflict linked with political interests of several actors. Yet,
liberalism argues that despite these tensions, it is possible that, through political institutions,
individuals can cooperate with one another to reach common goals. Liberals and realists do
agree that the state is an anarchical system, however, unlike realists, liberals believe that
there is no competition for power and resources. Rather, in an anarchical state, states are
better off by not competing but instead cooperating with one another. Thus, there is a solid
emphasis on regional and international organisations. This is useful in “designing
international institutions, such as courts, that have an impact on domestic politics or to link
up to domestic institutions.” (
International Relations, Principal Theories

Furthermore, liberals believe that states can certainly cooperate by themselves; there is
no need for a sole superpower to organise or influence such behaviour. The formation of
these political institutions can differ. For example, such institutions may be more focused on
the individual, while others may be focused on the development of an international
institution such as an international organisation, which involves state actors. Nevertheless,
institutions that create and protect norms such as individual rights, as well as an open market,
allow states to cooperate with one another to improve their economic wealth and to create
a more secure state through institutions and cooperation.

Liberals also disagree with realists with regards to ideas of relative power and absolute power.
For liberals, absolute power is far more important than relative power. Meaning, if two states
both take advantage from an agreement, then this would be a policy option worth
considering, irrespective of how well off the deal makes the other state. In comparison to
realism, realists have often discouraged alliances and trade agreements when one state
benefits far more than the other, despite the fact that both would benefit from the held
agreement.

Marx thinks that the idea of class is the leading actor in international relations. Therefore, the
international system is in conflict not because of its anarchical structure but because of class
conflicts. According to Marx, two features determine a class; individuals of a society that
share the same relations to the means of production and class consciousness. Marx assumes
that the “economic conditions” forced most of the society into a workforce whose “common

situation and common interests” are developed by “the domination of capital.” (

Slaughter, A. (2011).

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

Cite a Website – Cite This For Me

Slaughter, A. (2011).

https://www.princeton.edu/~slaughtr/Articles/722_IntlRelPrincipalTheories_Slaughter_20110509zG.pdf Accessed 24 Jul.

. online Available at:

2017.

. online Available at:

2017.

(2003).

. online Gjis.journals.yorku.ca. Available at:

He argued that this

Buecker, R.

http://gjis.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/gjis/article/viewFile/35211/31930 Accessed 24 Jul. 2017.

Does the state remain the most important actor in world politics today? Discuss in light of
the different approaches to the state provided by the three 20th Century paradigms
(Realism, Liberalism/Pluralism and Structuralism).

workforce “is already a class in relation to capital, but not yet a class for itself.” (

Cite a Website – Cite This For Me

This end,
nonetheless, is capable by a “struggle” in which workers unit and finally become “a class for

itself.” (
Cite a Website – Cite This For Me

Marx separated
the two main classes with regards to the mode of production. These were the bourgeoisie
who owns the means of production and the proletariat, which provides wage-labour and is
employed by the bourgeoisie. In a capitalist society, the bourgeoisie, which is generally
structured and controls different governmental systems, whereas the proletariat is facing one
another in hostility. Marx labelled the proletariat and the bourgeoisie as modern classes.
Since the working-class is in absence of class-consciousness and relations amongst
themselves, Marx saw them as a traditional class rather than as modern. Marx emphasised
the modern classes as final classes because he saw capitalism as the last stage before a
communist society is born. Moreover, Marx considers colonialism as empirically imperative
in the sense that it helps capitalism to shape itself in non-capitalist societies. Thus, Marx views
capitalism, which advocates the spread of industrial progress internationally, as a necessity
for forming a socialist society. Marx also noticed that private property is important in the
transformation process from a traditional into a capitalist and eventually into a communist

state.

Third world countries have not reached the level of industrialisation of the United States and
Europe. The term ‘developing world’ is used to show countries that are less economically
developed than the United States and European nations. The term suggests that there is a
process that reveals economic development, and the anticipation that all countries will
ultimately become industrialised. However, a number of sociologists and economists believed
that this is not true, hence why they created the dependency theory.

The dependency theory shows the economic events taken place in history which encouraged
developing countries to depend upon the support of more advanced nations. This
dependence prevents developing nations from fully developing institutions and infrastructure
required for their full transition into industrial nations. This process can be done in various
ways for the developing country. Empirically, dependency theory looks at the inequality
resulted in power relations that have developed as a consequence of colonialism. For
example, Andre Frank argued that “the trade in slavery resulted in tremendous profits for

both slave-traders and plantation owners in the 18th century.” (Revisionworld.com.
(2017).Dependency theory | a2-level-level-revision, sociology, world-sociology, sociological-explanations-development-
under-development, dependency-theory | Revision World

Likewise, in the colonial period, newly-industrialised colonial nations have
expanded into areas that were untaken by other colonial powers. As a result, the natural
resources of Third World nations were used to fuel the colonial nations’ factories. The
methods used by imperial powers normally included direct military and political control.
Colonialism had fallen after World War Two but left a legacy in the form of neo-colonialism.
International finance and capitalism became the most used methods of control over Third
World countries. For example, the “Western dominance of international trading, the practices
of multinational companies and the LDC’s reliance on Western aid.” (Revisionworld.com.

(2003).

. online Gjis.journals.yorku.ca. Available at:

Buecker, R.

http://gjis.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/gjis/article/viewFile/35211/31930 Accessed 24 Jul. 2017.

Buecker, R. (2003).

http://gjis.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/gjis/article/viewFile/35211/31930 Accessed 24 Jul. 2017.

revision/sociology/world-sociology/sociological-explanations-development-under-development/dependency-theory

. online Gjis.journals.yorku.ca. Available at:

. online Available at: https://revisionworld.com/a2-level-level-

Accessed 24 Jul. 2017.

Does the state remain the most important actor in world politics today? Discuss in light of
the different approaches to the state provided by the three 20th Century paradigms
(Realism, Liberalism/Pluralism and Structuralism).

(2017).Dependency theory | a2-level-level-revision, sociology, world-sociology, sociological-explanations-development-
under-development, dependency-theory | Revision World

As a result, many Third World countries now owe developed countries a

substantial amount of money cannot pay the debt. For example, “in 1998, Sub-Saharan Africa

owed the West $222 billion, which makes up 71% of its national earnings.” (Revisionworld.com.
(2017).Dependency theory | a2-level-level-revision, sociology, world-sociology, sociological-explanations-development-
under-development, dependency-theory | Revision World

Another consequence is that others suffer from a reliance on importing
finished goods and exporting natural resources.

Overall, each paradigm has a different view on the role of the state. With regards to realism,
interstate politics is a permanent bargaining game over the distribution of power, meaning it
explains world politics as a state of war, and a struggle for power and is usually pessimistic
about the outlooks for removing conflict and war. Whereas liberalism refers to the fact that
actors could achieve world order in a peaceful manner, without the need for going to war.
Additionally, the rule of law applies to everyone so you would be able to achieve global justice
through international institutions. Conversely, in structuralism, Marx failed to fathom the
huge consequences of nationalism. Marx thought that the differences between societies
would be reduced through capitalism. As Marx was an immigrant, he was lacking in patriotic
enthusiasm which may explain this misinterpretation. Furthermore, there are problems with
the dependency theory. From a Marxist perspective, the inequality of wealth distribution is
part of the process of capitalist business. This makes development somewhat dependent
upon global events.