The New Liberalism

Andrew Moravcsik

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

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


The New Liberalism

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This article presents three core theoretical assumptions underlying liberal theories, elaborates the three variants of liberal theory, and draws some broader implications. Liberal international relations theory's fundamental premise — state preferences derived from the domestic and transnational social pressures critically influence state behaviour — can be restated in terms of three core assumptions: the nature of societal actors: globalization generates differentiated demands from societal individuals and groups with regard to international affairs; the nature of the state: states represent the demands of a subset of domestic individuals and social groups, on the basis of whose interests they define ‘state preferences’ and act instrumentally to manage globalization; the nature of the international system: the pattern of interdependence among state preferences shapes state behaviour. Perhaps the most important advantage of liberal theory lies in its capacity to serve as the theoretical foundation for a shared multicausal model of instrumental state behaviour — thereby moving the discipline beyond paradigmatic warfare among unicausal claims.

Keywords: liberal theory; liberalism; international relations; state preferences; social pressures; state behaviour; globalization

Article.  9283 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Methodology

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