Template talk:International relations theory

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Mode versus Theory[edit]

Hi, I'm excited that you want to work on this template. I have some issues with the changes you made. First, non-interventionism is very close to Isolationism. In cases where there were very similar ideologies (realism and neorealism, liberalism and neoliberalism, etc) I opted just to have a single link in order to keep the template small and relevant. Protectionism and economic nationalism are also very closely linked to Isolationism, but are more economic than political in focus. I'm not sure we should get into economic ideologies. Finally, the institutionalism article is a red link for now, but the Institutionalism article is about domestic politics, whereas we ought to have one about Institutionalism in international relations (closely related, again, to neorealism and neoliberalism).

Perhaps you would like to help me improve the Isolationism article by including subsections with links to non-interventionism, protectionism, and economic nationalism.—thames 19:20, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

  1. Yes, non-interventionism is similar to isolationism, but not the same - there is a big difference. Isolationism favors protectionism; non-interventionism does not. Non-interventionism refers to political and military policy, not economic policy.
  2. Protectionism and economic nationalism are also similar, but again not the same. Economic nationalism is broader, including all policies with the goal of benefitting the 'nation.' Protectionism is basically economic nationalism restricted to trade policy.
  3. Okay, I understand about institutionalism. Would you please make a stub article so the link won't be red? Hogeye 19:37, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
I'll make a stub for Institutionalism as soon as I can. Regarding the other edits and reorganization: my fear is that this template will become bloated and not focus on what are traditionally theories of international relations, but include every minor theory and every international relations concept. For example: "free trade" is not really a theory of the interactions between states--it's not predictive or analytical in the way that realism, liberalism, or marxism is. Free trade is really a normative goal, i.e. things ought to be this way. Thus, it's not really a theory of international relations. Same goes for "protectionism", "economic nationalism", "imperialism", and "non-interventionism". These are more modes of international relations than they are theories of international relations. For instance, an theory of imperialism is Leninism, in which his Marxist analysis of international politics led him to the conclusion that the world system was capitalist in nature and that "imperialism [was] the highest form of capitalism." Leninism is both analytical and predictive--it's not a mode of international relations, but a theory of international relations. Do you see the difference I am trying to illustrate? Now, Leninism is not on the template, as it's covered under the link to Marxist international relations theory--I'm trying to link to the top level articles only, to keep the template parsimonious and germane.—thames 20:20, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
Free trade is predictive - it predicts more peaceful relations and higher living standards. If you want only general theories, then you need to delete "isolationism" and "neoconservatism," too. Certainly there is lot more theory on free trade than either of these. Free trade falls under liberalism, while neoconservatism falls under realpolitik. Isolationism falls under ... neo-mercantilism. Hogeye 21:11, 12 January 2006 (UTC)
That's not what I meant by predictive. By predictive I mean: when faced with a particular situation with XYZ factors, what will this certain country (with its identity and resources) do? "Free trade" is not a theory that would explain how a country would act faced with such a situation, whereas Realism or Liberalism or Marxism would. Nor does mercantilism. Those are normative models: if a country acts in this way, then it will become prosperous. While I would dispute that neoconservatism falls under Realism (it's certainly closer to Idealism), I understand your point and would be willing to compromise with its removal. Isolationism too. —thames 21:24, 12 January 2006 (UTC)

New view[edit]

I've done some thinking about the IR template, and I've come to the conclusion that it ought to be broader than I first thought. In addition to predictive and analytical views of international politics, an IR theory is also a system of thought through which you view or evaluate your country's national interest. Therefore, I think Neoconservatism and Isolationism might have a place in the template.

That being said, I am still hesitant to put solely economic theories on the template (protectionism, economic nationalism, mercantilism, etc). Marxism is political despite its heavy focus on economic motivations. Whereas "free trade" is solely economic, without political, cultural, or security aspects to it in the same way that Realism, Liberalism, Functionalism, or Marxism do.

But, I would like to collaborate on an "International economic theory" template, as I mentioned on your talk page, Hogeye, because I think all the articles you've brought up are important and need a schema of their own.—thames 02:03, 13 January 2006 (UTC)


Neoconservatism and isolationism[edit]

An IR theory is not a foreign policy theory! As neoconservatism and isolationism only explain foreign policies, they are removed. An IR theory is about explaining and predicting international relations. See Waltz, A theory of international politics (1979), pp. 121-122 for this crucial difference. Sijo Ripa 19:47, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
LOL! Who put Neocon and isolationism up there? Have they taken an IR class?147.9.41.19 02:12, 6 September 2007 (UTC)

Derivates[edit]

Sijo Ripa: I'm not sure it's terribly useful to put all the derivates on the template. Each of the main articles discusses its derivates. Meanwhile, it could lead to tremendous template bloat if we include all the derivates of each school (Realism, defensive realism, offensive realism, liberal realism, neo/structural/institutionalist realism, etc.). Meanwhile, you've removed critical theory, which, while I think is academia's po-mo cruft, is still legitimately discussed. Institutionalism, also, I believe is a valid worldview, which spawned both neorealism and neoliberalism. Just because it's article isn't good right now doesn't mean it doesn't belong on the template--it means we ought to work to improve the article.—thames 19:36, 7 March 2006 (UTC)

Though I understand what you mean, I think that a template can and should offer the most important derivates. The added derivates are much more widely debated, researched and had more real-life impact. Therefore it also states: main IR theories. Sijo Ripa 19:45, 7 March 2006 (UTC)
Yes, but where do we draw the line? What's to prevent other editors from creating a drawn out edit conflict because their favorite derivative got left off? My concern is that we have no standard for inclusion/exclusion. Further, I find the new template to be aestheticall unpleasing--too wide and too much whitespace compared to the previous compact version.—thames 01:43, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
A template is always about making choices: what should be added, what shouldn't - and why. A consensus could be reached about what the main theories and the main derivates are by discussing them. Personally I disliked the old template format a lot. If I recall the old form correctly isolationism, neoconservatism were part and constructivism wasn't. Furthermore, neorealism and neoliberalism which are quite different from classic realism and liberalism and are much more important in the current theoretical debate, were completely neglected. Remember however that these classic theories are not really "theories" (in the real sense of the word), rather modes of thinking that got (wrongly) the name of a theory (see among others: K. WALTZ, Theory of International Politics for this conclusion, most important difference is that theories can be tested, made the relationship between variables explicitly, etc). Therefore, neorealism and neoliberalism are more "IR theories" than their classic roots, which were included in the "IR Theory template". Additionally, why was liberalism added in this old form as it is a direct direvate of Idealism? Even more, should constructivism be added in the first place, as some (like Jack Snyder) consider it a derivate from Idealism (social idealism). Nevertheless constructivism is (in my humble opinion) quite different from idealism and one of most important theories of IR at the moment. Don't get me wrong however. I don't say that my changes should remain, I'm willing to accept changes, but I think that the current template (although not perfect) is a lot clearer and easier to use that the former one. Sijo Ripa 02:21, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm not terribly distraught if neoconservatism and isolationism aren't on the template. Constructivism wasn't simply because Critical theory was, and critical theory served as a kind of umbrella article for constructivism, marxism, feminism, post-colonialism, etc. All of them are valid worldviews, but few are major at all in practice. You can see here where I originally had neorealism and neoliberalism on the template, but removed them because there are so many "neos" that the template might devolve into an absurd state: neo-realism, neo-liberalism, neo-marxism, neo-constructivism, neo-institutionalism, neo-functionalism, etc. My usual idea for templates is to link to the highest level overview articles: hence just "realism" or "liberalism", and letting the user drill down to the specific article they're looking for. That keeps the template tight and relevant, rather than bloated and eclectic. Finally, I disagree that Liberalism is a subset of Idealism. To be sure, the two are closely related, but Liberalism shares a good number of basic theoretical assumptions with realism (e.g. an anarchical world system). As far as the aesthetics, it's the bullet-points that are really killing me.—thames 19:44, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

(new alinea; reply to user: thames, 8 march 2006)

  1. I (strongly) diagree that mentioning the most important derivates is the same as "bloated and eclectic". It's without any doubt larger than the minimalistic version of the template, but not exaggerated.
  2. Furthermore, I think that liberalism though not the same as idealism is a direct direvate of idealism. It's not because you share some assumptions with another mode of thinking that you can't be a derivate. I mean: neoliberalism shares a lot with neorealism, but that doesn't mean that neoliberalism isn't a derivate of liberalism. (Liberalism is also considered a derivate on the Idealism in international relations page.) If we return to the older template version, we should be consequent and only mention Idealism (and let the reader drill further).
  3. I also think that locking up a theory as big as constructivism in critical theory does not do that theory right. Also: Why was marxism mentioned if it is part of critical theory?
  4. Furthermore, classic realism and idealism aren't really theories. I think that putting these modes of thinking on the template, and at the same time not their "theoretical" derivates is a contradiction to the template title (IR theories).
  5. Removing the bullet points isn't a problem. Will do it.
  6. If you wan't to return to the old version, I won't stop you. (I would just disagree.) Sijo Ripa 20:33, 8 March 2006 (UTC)
Sijo: good solution to the whitespace/bullet points. Looks much better now. I added Critical theory, otherwise I'm inclined to keep the current version. You're just going to have to help me out when random contributors come along demanding a special place for their pet theory on the template... Otherwise, it's been good working with you.—thames 16:59, 11 March 2006 (UTC)

Style[edit]

This template has gone from compact and readable[1] to large garish and unreadable[2]. It ought to be changed.—Perceval 04:23, 17 March 2007 (UTC)

What makes example #1 easier to read than example #2?
Additionally, what makes example #2 garish? It uses the standard Wikipedia color palette. Is Wikipedia itself garish?
Finally, I disagree that it is large. Here is a large template: {{Cornell}}.
Kindly, Lmbstl 05:46, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
The text in #1 is larger than the micro text in #2. #2 uses more colors where unnecessary, dark text on a gray background is harder to read than dark text on a white background, and the template stands out on pages for no good reason. And #2 is twice as large as #1, again for no good reason.—Perceval 18:06, 17 March 2007 (UTC)
Text: the font size of both tables is set to 90%.
Colors: template #1 uses one more color than template #2; it has a slightly grey background. A slightly shaded background does indeed lessen contrast between the bright blue link text and the background. This serves to make the table easier on the eyes. Removing the background shading would increase contrast and have the opposite effect. I am happy to remove the background shading, and you can see for yourself, if you wish. However, it does not go very far to make the table less "garish," as you have mentioned.
Size: the size of the current template #2 is relative. I do not know your browser settings and monitor resolution. The table is set to a reasonable width of 200 pixels. Therefore, (like any table) its appearance will change depending on your font size and screen resolution. The 200 pixel setting keeps the width of the table at a constant relative to font size. In other words, if I need a large font on my browser but I have a big desktop space, the 200 pixel width limitation will prevent the table from taking over the entire screen, and the larger font will wrap within the table. This is mostly a courtesy to wide-screen monitor users, but it can happen to others with high monitor resolutions, as well.
The table in example #1 was sized according to the width of the text. Therfore, if a person has a small monitor space but needs a large font size, the table would expand for the text (instead of the text wrapping inside the table) and then take up a large portion of the screen. Certainly not optimal.
If you do not like the 200 pixel width, what width do you recommend?
Utility: Finally, you mentioned in your edits that there is "no utility from style changes." I disagree. The theories and their derivates have a better visual organization when presented as a heirarchical list. The utility is the increased the ability of the viewer to see main concepts, distinguish their related subconcepts, and navigate between them efficiently.
Kindly, Lmbstl 05:23, 18 March 2007 (UTC)
The font size in your version is set twice at 90%, and because CSS inherits, in browsers that display CSS properly the font size is 90% of 90%, i.e. even smaller. I think it would be a good idea to return to less over-use of color. The difference between the two versions is not in width but in height--the new version is twice as long, even though the font is smaller and no new text has been added. So it takes up twice as much space for no reason. Finally, a hierarchical list would make sense if all the theories were hierarchical in their relationships to one another. But, constructivism can't really be placed subordinate to critical theory, because that implies that constructivism is a subset of critical theory or is somehow derived from it, which is incorrect. The two are similar in some ways and related, which is why placing them together is fine, but hierarchical organization injects meaning which should not be there in some cases. Even with things as seemingly simple as neorealism and neoliberalism are not just subordinate to realism and liberalism respectively, but also to (third-image) structuralism or institutionalism, respectively. Hierarchical listing therefore either suggests a relationship that does not exist, or it obscures other relationships that informal grouping does not.—Perceval 05:08, 20 March 2007 (UTC)
Font: I disagree about the font size being set to 2 x 90%, but maybe you see something I am overlooking. I invite you to fix it.
Color: I removed the background color, even though I think it is better to have it there.
Size: Please read my above post about the size. Additionally, it doesn't take up twice as much space "for no reason." It takes up twice as much space because it is easier to read.
Listing: Sorry to confuse the issue by using the word "heirarchical." The title of the navigation table is clearly: "Main International Relations Theories and derivates." Keeping the obvious title in mind, please view the following:
Constructivism
It is clear that Constructivism is a derivate of Critical theory, given the prominant title of the template. I am explaining this in case you genuinely got lost over my mention of the word "heirarchical," although it does seem you are simply trying to be difficult. Let's please conclude this conversation. Thanks, Lmbstl 11:48, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
I went ahead and addressed font-size and template size. Thanks for compromising on color. Regarding hierarchical presentation, the point I was making is that constructivism can't really be considered a derivative of critical theory. They're related insofar as they reject most of the fundamental assumptions of mainstream IR theory, but beyond that constructivism was not derived from critical theory. Critical theory isn't even one school of thought, from which something could be derived, but a collection of varying perspectives on IR. Placing the two in a hierarchical relationship is misleading in this case. In the case of neorealism and realism, neorealism certainly is derived from realism, but it is also derived from structuralism. Asserting a hierarchical relationship between realism & neorealism is correct, but misleading by omission. The old format avoids this by avoiding the assertion of hierarchy.—Perceval 23:19, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

Add Rationalism?[edit]

Should we not include Rationalism in this template? Flipper24 (talk) 05:19, 23 May 2009 (UTC)

Dependency[edit]

I had to take Dependency theory out of the Marxism category because not all dependency theorists are Marxian. The large Latin American structuralist school, for instance. The dependency theory article has more on this; and especially relevant is Venengo's paper cited in the references. --Ong saluri (talk) 02:59, 13 August 2009 (UTC)