Theories of International Relations

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“Foundational” texts

  • c. 400 BC. Thucydides, The Pelopennesian War.
  • 1532. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince.
  • 1625. Hugo Grotius, De Jure Belli ac Pacis.
  • 1651. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan.
  • 1760. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Abstract and Judgment of the Abbé de Saint-Pierre’s Project for Perpetual Peace.”
  • Stanley Hoffmann and David Fidler, ed., Rousseau on International Relations.
  • 1776. Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations.
  • Andrew Walter, “Adam Smith and the Liberal Tradition in International Relations.”
  • 1795. Immanuel Kant, “Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Essay.”

Studies of war and the state

  • Carl von Clausewitz, On War.
  • Michael Mann, States, War, and Capitalism.
  • Michael Mann, Sources of Social Power, vol. 1.
  • Quincy Wright, A Study of War.

Realists, neo-realists, and assorted folk

  • Michael E. Brown, ed. Rational Choice and Security Studies: Stephen Walt and His Critics.
  • Charles L. Glaser, “The Security Dilemma Revisited.” World Politics 50:1 (October 1997): 171-201.
  • Samuel Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations,” Foreign Affairs 72:3 (1993).
  • Robert Jervis, “Cooperation under the Security Dilemma,” World Politics 30:2 (January 1978).
  • Paul Kennedy, Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
  • Robert Keohane, ed., Neorealism and Its Critics.
  • Robert Keohane, International Institutions and State Power: Essays in International Relations Theory.
  • Robert Keohane & Joseph Nye, Power and Interdependence.
  • Stephen Krasner, Defending the National Interest: Raw Materials Investments, and U.S. Foreign Policy.
  • Stephen Krasner ed., International Regimes.
  • Hans Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations.
  • Thomas Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict.
  • Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth.
  • Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political.
  • Stephen Walt, The Origins of Alliances.
  • Stephen Walt, Revolution and War.
  • Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics.


  • Michael W. Doyle, “Kant, Liberal Legacies, and Foreign Affairs,” parts 1 and 2. Philosophy and Public Affairs 12: 3 (Summer 1983) 205-235 and 12:4 (Autumn 1983), 323-353.
  • Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: a Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought.
  • John Stuart Mill, “Of Nationality,” in Considerations on Representative Government.


  • Hayward Alker, Rediscoveries and Reformulations: Humanistic Methodologies of International Studies.
  • Barry Buzan, Ole Waever, & Jaap de Wilde, Security: A New Framework for Analysis.
  • Jeff Checkel. “The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory,” World Politics 50: 2, (January 1998), 324-48.
  • James Der Derian, On Diplomacy: A Geneology of Western Estrangement.
  • James Der Derian, ed. International/Intertextual Relations: postmodern readings of world politics.
  • John G. Ruggie, Constructing the world polity : essays on international institutionalization.
  • J. Ann Tickner. Man, the State, and War: Gendered Perspectives on National Security.
  • Gearóid Ó Tuathail, Critical Geopolitics: The Politics of Writing Global Space.
  • RBJ Walker, Inside/Outside: International Relations as Political Theory.
  • Wendt, Alexander, “Anarchy is What States Make of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics,” International Organization 46:2 (Spring 1992): 391-425.

The “English School” and Grotians

  • Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society.
  • Hedley Bull, et al., Hugo Grotius and International Relations.
  • E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years Crisis.
  • Tim Dunne, Inventing International Society: A History of the English School.
  • David Fidler & Jennifer Welsh, eds., Empire and Community: Edmund Burke's Writings and Speeches on International Relations.
  • Jennifer Welsh, Edmund Burke and International Relations.
  • Martin Wight, International Theory: The Three Traditions.
  • Martin Wight, “The balance of power and international order” in Alan James (ed) The Bases of International Order.
  • Martin Wight, “Why Is There No International Theory?” in Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, eds. Diplomatic Investigations: essays in the theory of international politics.

Marxist and Quasi-Marxist Approaches

  • Giovanni Arrighi, Geometry of Imperialism.
  • Shlomo Avineri, Karl Marx on Colonialism and Modernization.
  • Vladimir Lenin, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism.
  • Margot Light, The Soviet Theory of International Relations.
  • Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World System.