Theories of Global Politics

Theories of Global Politics


Global Political theories try to explain how states should relate to others. They tend to explain in theory, ideas that are used in the political relations among the states of the world and from them one can understand why states relate to each other as they do, with each different theory having its own views of the world. Some of the major theories are ‘realism’, ‘liberal’ and ‘constructivist, which have different views of how the world should relate and have different policies that they associate with. According to Kegley (2008), each theory, “rests on different assumptions about the nature of international politics, each advances different claims about causes, and each offers a different set of foreign policy recommendation.”

Realism theory

            Realism has several assumptions and propositions about the global relations. The assumptions are that international politics is a struggle for power where countries fight for it under all circumstances, the obligation of a state is to pursue its interests and objectives, subordinating those of other states. State power is not achieved through economic strength only, but rather, the military might that a state has, which can be achieved through economic strength such as creating stronger arms. The theory goes further to assume that stability of power can be achieved through seeking to maximize power, which could result in a balanced power driven by alliances that oppose each other’s expansion. With these assumptions, one can easily understand why today’s global politics is full of countries wanting to attain more power, and all the time there is development of military equipments, to offer protection for each state. These assumptions explain why all states today compete with each other to gain economic power and why states keep recruiting new military people for their security.

Liberal theory

            Liberalism believes that, “…application of reason and universal ethics to international relations can lead to a more orderly, just, and cooperative world; liberalism assumes that anarchy and war can be policed by institutional organization and law,” (Kegley, 2008). Unlike realism, liberalism tends to emphasize on the ethic principles as opposed to power and military might. Liberalism promotes individual rights of people and the need for freedom among all, and suggests using ideas such as education to enlighten the world against warfare. Liberalism advocates for democracy, which is believed to be the guarantee for maintaining peaceful international relations, and seeks to use legal means of solving conflicts before resulting to war. Today, people seek to be free from rules that limit them from achieving all they want to achieve individually. Currently, many countries have achieved this, where everybody has a right to pursue their dreams without much control from the states.

Constructivist theory

            A little different from realism and liberalism that see power and economy as the basis for international relations, constructivist theory “emphasizes how the world revolves around social ideas and shared understandings whose impact on the world politics is huge. … International reality is defined by our images of the world,” (Kegley, 2008). According to the constructivist theory, all people are influenced by social pressures from the social groups to which each belongs, and this shapes the international politics. The theory suggests that how we understand the world through social concepts and ideas prevailing forms our beliefs about things that are changeable or not, helping us see the world politics in a different perspective from the other two theories. It suggests that social concepts help us see value for each material thing, as we may understand it through social aspects and shared knowledge.


The three theories have explained and proposed the best way that international politics or relations can be achieved, with realism suggesting that each state pursuing power would ensure that there is no superpower oppressing others, hence a balance can be achieved. Alternatively, liberalism suggests using democracy thus allowing people to pursue their goals without much control from states. Constructivist on the other hand, suggests seeing the world politics from a social perspective that affects all political relations. The political theories help us understand how international politics can be achieved, and it is up to a person to choose one that they believe in.



Kegley, C. (2008). World Politics: Trend and Transformation. Clifton Park, NY: Cengage Learning





















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