The State and International Relations

David A. Lake

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:


 The State and International Relations

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The state is central to the study of international relations and will remain so into the foreseeable future. State policy is the most common object of analysis. States decide to go to war. They erect trade barriers. They choose whether and at what level to establish environmental standards. States enter international agreements, or not, and choose whether to abide by their provisions, or not. International relations as a discipline is chiefly concerned with what states do on the world stage and, in turn, how their actions affect other states. This article first reviews the rationales behind state-centric theories of international relations. The second section examines criticisms and probes the limits of state-centric theories. The third section identifies three promising areas of research within state-centric theory: state structure, unit heterogeneity, and international hierarchy.

Keywords: state policy; international relations theory; state-centric theory; state structure; unit heterogeneity; international hierarchy

Article.  9203 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Methodology

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