Social neorealism: an Etzionian ‘I&We’ communitarian upgrading of Waltz’s theory of international politics

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    Abstract

    Kenneth Waltz’s neorealism has arguably been the most dominant international theory for the last three decades, although its popularity has decreased. Amitai Etzioni has recently criticized (neo)realism, arguing that not only military and economic factors but, increasingly, also normative ones shape international relations. Etzioni’s challenge, one ‘from within’, is of particular interest and relevance, as it shares with Waltz’s theory an intellectual rootedness in microeconomics, yet differs from neorealism in abandoning the prevailing neoclassical paradigm in favor of a communitarian, or social, one. This article argues that Etzioni’s contribution should be taken as an ‘I&We’ communitarian upgrading of Waltz’s neorealist theory. It proposes a ‘social neorealism’, which represents a dynamic, context sensitive, anti-utopian theory that assigns priority to national security and maintains the causal primacy of material factors, but also accepts that, insofar as a global community is forming in view of planetary wide (security) threats, normative factors are growing in importance and moderate the dangers of international anarchy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number215
    Number of pages12
    JournalPhilica
    Publication statusPublished - 2010

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