Article

From International Relations to Global Society

Michael N. Barnett and Kathryn Sikkink

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199219322.003.0003

Series: OXFORD HANDBOOKS POL SCIENCE SERI OHPS C

 From International Relations to Global Society

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Historically speaking, the study of international relations has largely concerned the study of states and the effects of anarchy on their foreign policies, the patterns of their interactions, and the organization of world politics. However, over the last several decades, the discipline as begun moving away from the study of ‘international relations’ and toward the study of ‘global society’. This shift from ‘international relations’ to ‘global society’ is reflective of several important developments that are the focus of this article. The article begins with a discussion of the anarchy thematic and what John Agnew (1994) has called ‘the territorial trap’, and surveys some of the critical forces that compelled international relations scholars to free themselves from this trap. It then explores the shifts in the what, who, how, and why of the study of international relations. It considers the terminological shift from the study of international governance to the study of global governance, justified because the purposes of global governance no longer reflect solely the interests of states but now also include other actors, including international organizations, transnational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and new kinds of networks.

Keywords: international relations; anarchy; global society; territorial trap; global governance

Article.  9617 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Methodology

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