International Political Economy

International political economy (IPE) is a rapidly developing social science field. This field contributes to a better understanding of global and international issues by employing an eclectic, interdisciplinary approach that employs analytical and theoretical approaches (Oatley 59). The IPE's expansion is based on the breakdown of existing disciplinary boundaries between politics and economics. The fascinating part is that the IPE problems are ones that can be solved by focusing on the interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or multidisciplinary point of view. As a result, IPE concentrates on the study of problems that are fundamentally related to one another.  This write-up focuses on the comparison between the American and the British school of international political economy, and how it affects the interaction of the international economy.

Comparison between the Two Schools

The two schools have differences and similarities in their approaches to the issues surrounding the social science, the politics, and the economy. What majorly stand out are the differences that make the two schools distinct. These differences could affect the international political and the economy. Studies have highlighted that each of the schools has defined their specific intellectual culture which is widely accepted to represent them in the legitimate study of the International Political Economy (Cohen 15). Each of the schools has developed their specific language within the cultures which is used for communication of their specific information.

Differences between the American and the British Schools

The major concern is the issues of the epistemology and the ontology. Ontology mans the things that are existing concerning the reality of the matter. In social science, it is used to mean the study of the reality of the world that we live in (Gilpin 28). Epistemology means the methods and the ways of knowing. In this case, the descriptions of the methodologies that are used in the study of the world are understood. The difference between the schools can be understood by the different nature of their understanding regarding the epistemology and the ontology.

In the American school, the ontology is determined by the state-centric which gives the privileges to the sovereign governments compared to other units of interest. The British school, on the other hand, views the state as one agent if the issue of the states is to be considered at all. The American school also is essentially one of the subsets of the international relations which shares a central preoccupation with the political science’s discipline with the public policy. The central object of the study is the limitation to the questions concerning the system governance and the state behavior. This applies the theory of the field’s “problematique,” to use a term favored more by British scholars than by Americans as the central to the study (Oatley 59). This principle uses the explanation in the finding of the causality, the ambition of solving problems in the urge to find the possible solutions. The British school, on the other hand, is more inclusive and open to the other available ways inquiry. The problematique, in this case, is more ecumenical and more concerned with the ethical and social issues. The main principle of this form of principle is the identification of the injustice through the judgment. The principle has its driving ambition being the amelioration where it explores more on how to make the world a better place. The American school also aspires on the conventional social science objectively while the British school normative concerning the classical moral philosophy and the traditional pragmatism

Concerning the epistemology, the American school still embraces the positivism and empiricism which are the two twin pillars that hold the hard science model. In this case, the reasoning is deductive and parsimonious to find out the universal truths of the matter. The hypotheses are tested through the use of the formal research of the methodologies. This will also improve the knowledge discovered in the process. The British school, on the other hand, uses the approaches that are historical and institutional in nature and uses a more interpretive tone. The uses of less formal methodologies are embraced by the school to give room for the wide range analysis (Cohen 15). The American school restricted itself self-consciously to the mid-level theorizing, the British school is aiming at the grander visions concerning the social development and the systemic transformation. The American school also puts a value on the normal science while the British school values the critical theory which focuses on the observations.

In summary, the major principles of the school of IPE in America are more studied in the political science field, but they include the research methodology which is normally applied to the economics. The American school states are the core in the analysis. Waltz’s classification places it to be on the second level. On the other hand, the British school does not restrict their analysis to the level of state but gives room for other agents which enters as individual reasoning units of interest. These differences cannot be conclusively undesirable if they were to provide a fruitful; dialogue but it is unfortunate that the communication between the schools is weak due to their variation in the socialization.

Similarities between the American and the British Schools

The two schools despite the differences that exist, there are a lot of things in common. Across the world the two schools stand out regarding their wide scholarly appeal. The influence of the schools is great. The influence of the British schools of IPE covers Australia and Canada where the academic traditions are similar to theirs while the American school influences the western hemisphere and some parts of Europe. The growth of the two schools is a credit to the pioneers of the 1960s and 1970s who started the schools (Oatley 59). The scholars mainly focused on the social sciences more than the economy, and the drifting arose later. Both school focus on the international relations.

The two schools are involved in the participation of the competitions of the ideas which is lively from of competition. This is mainly viewed regarding the diversity of the approaches. The separate cultures ask the different questions and approach the same subject using the different perspective. The various specialists learn different ways of answering the various questions of interest (Gilpin 28). This approach is of advantage to those in the field because of the fragmented thickets in the field that viewing from a narrower perspective would provide a problem. The two schools are therefore involved in the healthy competition of the ideas.

The two schools focus on the interaction of the politics and the economy in the international relations and therefore, none of the schools is considered better than the other. The only difference is the language of communication where the American school uses a different one from the British school. Therefore, the schools are the same without any superiority on one over the other. The two schools have been shown to complement each other with the strengths of one school complementing with the weaknesses of the other school (Cohen 15). The American school, for example, can take pride over their principles of positivism and empiricism but they have been shown to have a narrow preoccupation especially with the scientific methods and on the focus on the normative work. The American weaknesses on the mid-level theory building and the discouragement of the radical ideas are complemented by the British school through their intellectual ecumenism. Their critical approach also complements the shortcomings of the American approach (Gilpin 28).

Studies have demonstrated that despite the separation and the non-communication between the schools, the evolution of the norms of both the political science and economy, the two schools are heterodox and do not conform to the practices that exist. The two schools have been demonstrated to be characterized by the shifting of their metatheoretical and conceptual debates instead of developing their strong systematic theory and the systematic data collections (Cohen 15). The British school for example, has been shown to take the critical position with their continued widening of the desire to include more in their study. These changes have occurred over time in both cases.

The two schools lack their originality and are not completely scientific. The two schools have included the international economics, international relations, and the political economy. This has formed the basis of the ironic differences between the two schools through the embrace of other fields into the study. Therefore the two schools are evolving depending on the rate of the introduction of other disciplines.

Impact on the Interaction of International Economies

The differences and the similarities of the schools have an impact on the international economies. In essence, the IPE is involved in the analysis of the international relations and economies by drawing many academic schools specializing in the economics, cultural studies, history, political science, and sociology among other fields (Gilpin 28). This will affect the interaction of the international economies.

The boundaries of the IPE are quite flexible and can accommodate a robust debate. The debate is based on the interdisciplinary approach to the issues surrounding the international economies. Their economic forces are viewed regarding the studies conducted by the schools which have a direct impact on the international economy (Cohen 15). Apart from the economy, they influence the politics and the interactions within the states and the institutions which consequently have an impact on the economic systems including the economic interactions. This may involve matters such as the introduction of the collective market. The debates may focus on the strategies geared towards globalization of the markets leading to the international development, global markets, and the growth of the international finance (Gilpin 28). They may also help in solving the problems that face the trans-border economies and therefore helping the multi-state corporation. Therefore, the American and British schools of the International political economy are helpful in dealing with the problems facing the international economies.


In conclusion, the American and the British schools of the international political economy have a lot of difference and similarities which have an impact on the interaction of the international economy. The study of the similarities and their impacts should be focused more so that the impact is well pictured.

Works Cited

Cohen, Benjamin J., ed. International political economy. Routledge, 2017.

Gilpin, Robert. The political economy of international relations. Princeton University Press, 2016.

Oatley, Thomas. International political economy. Routledge, 2015.

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