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Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics$
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Norrin M. Ripsman, Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, and Steven E. Lobell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199899234

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199899234.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Neoclassical Realist Theory and the Limits of Structural Realism

Neoclassical Realist Theory and the Limits of Structural Realism

(p.16) Chapter 1 Neoclassical Realist Theory and the Limits of Structural Realism
Neoclassical Realist Theory of International Politics

Norrin M. Ripsman

Jeffrey W. Taliaferro

Steven E. Lobell

Oxford University Press

The chapter begins with a discussion of neoclassical realist theory and its improvement on structural realism as a means of explaining the foreign policy and grand strategic responses of states to external challenges and opportunities. It starts with an overview of structural realism and its implications for the foreign policy choices of states in an anarchic international system. It then identifies four key shortcomings of the structural realist approach and explains how two distinct types of neoclassical realism sought to rectify them. Type I neoclassical realism sought merely to fix structural realism by using domestic-level intervening variables to explain away empirical anomalies for structural realist theories. Type II neoclassical realism used systemic stimuli, moderated by domestic-level intervening variables, to inform an approach to foreign policy more generally, since—except in rare circumstances—structural realism does not provide enough information to predict national strategic choices.

Keywords:   neoclassical realism, power, international relations, grand strategy, foreign policy, crisis behavior, international relations theories, realism

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