International Political Economy

John Ravenhill

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

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


International Political Economy

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This article begins with a discussion of the emergence of the international political economy (IPE) as a significant field of study in international relations. It then considers the definition of IPE, early work in IPE, and the efforts to draw distinction between how IPE evolved in the United States in contrast to other parts of the world. It is argued that the range of topics covered by the field to date has been excessively narrow. The majority of the research has focused on international trade issues; global finance has been the second-most significant issue area but has received less attention than trade, while issues relating to foreign direct investment and the reorganization of production have been left largely to management studies and to sociologists. The field has seen plenty of excursions into what proved to be theoretical dead ends. But as Cohen himself argues, to judge progress in IPE by whether or not students have produced a general theory is to set the hurdle unrealistically high. Even the excursions into dead ends did generate new understandings.

Keywords: international relations; global political economy; international trade; global finance

Article.  8431 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Institutions

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