Neoclassical realism theory

The notion of neoclassical realism

The notion of neoclassical realism is founded on realist foundations in international relations theory. Realist theories have attempted to achieve an understanding of global reality by focusing on state conflict and power relations. Gideon Rose proposed the theory in 1998. (Rose 145). There are, however, other explanations for war and conflict, national politics, and human nature. To be more specific, neoclassical realism is basically intended to describe different countries’ foreign policies at both the national and international levels (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 90). Therefore, proponents of this theory assert that it is able to bridge the gaps witnessed in the realism theories particularly in regards to predicting and explaining the foreign policy. On the other hand, critics suggest that it does not explain the behaviours of the countries in the global arena.

Neoclassical realism claims

Neoclassical realism claims that the actions of a particular nation in the global structure can be described by systemic factors including the capacity for power distribution among countries. It is also referred to as foreign policy theory since it provides a framework where a clear image of any state’s international policy can be acquired (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 93). Neoclassical realism obtains the theoretical perspectives and rigor from the Waltz’s neorealism without eliminating the pragmatic understandings of global politics. Proponents of this theory reiterate that the foreign policy of any state is essentially fuelled by its place in the global structure and its comparative power (Dueck 127). Moreover, neoclassical realists contend that the system cannot be unwaveringly affected because the system is an independent variable. In this regard, any impact to be applied to the system must be generated from an intervening variable (Rose 146). The impact of the power proficiencies on foreign policy is complex and indirect since systemic pressures should be interpreted via intervening stage.

Advocates reject the assumptions by neorealist

Its advocates reject the assumptions by neorealist that the pressures emanating from the system are instantly transferred into actions. The neoclassical realist theory delivers a more candid and interlinking chain between the relative power of a country in the anarchic system, the local-level factors and its outcomes of foreign policy (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 94). The local-level variables refer to the enabling or intermediate sections of the chain. For instance, the elite or political leaders’ perceptions are part of the variables, which affect the distribution of power. In addition, neoclassical realists affirm that political leaders are the key actors hence there insights are critical. However, this argument originated from classical realism theory (Rose 146). Neoclassical realist’s philosophers demonstrate the significance of the insights based on the case of the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War. In this regard, the two powers construed their real strengths inversely leading to different reactions. Therefore, their actions were confliction to the predictions of the neorealist that “states” with a comparable position in the structure would respond in the same manner to systemic pressures. Others argue that for this prediction, it is not accountable to the motivation and interests of the states, which are critical intermediate variables (Dueck 129). Additionally, limitation of the domestic power also serves as the local variable. Most importantly, this variable determines how the pressure groups and public opinion influence the ability of the state to gather the optimal resources from its people (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 99).

Controversies among philosophers

Nevertheless, domestic/local variables have established many controversies among philosophers who blame proponents of neoclassical realists for supposedly snubbing the primary neorealism’s assumptions (Dueck 136). They emphasize that neoclassical realists include liberal aspects anticipated to save realism. The neoclassical realists stress that local-level variables are regularly determinants in systemic realist theory (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 113).

Main principles of neoclassical realism

The main principles of neoclassical realism are that foreign policy is a production of global systems, domestic/internal factors, and also complex interactions between the two. Therefore, although the powers of certain state and its position in the global arena are essential in the selection of foreign policy, the local factors can influence the foreign policy (Rose 149). For this reason, neoclassical realists try to resolve the issues in the global relations by connecting both the state and the international systems. In this regard, international relations between states can be achieved through the balance of power. For instance, appropriate balancing takes place when country rightly identifies the intentions of another nation and balances correctly (Dueck 133). Overbalancing takes place in case a country wrongly believes that another country as aggressive, and utilizes more resources attempting to balance.


Neoclassical realist concentrates on establishing the deeply comprehensive account of a foreign policy of a particular state (Lobell, Ripsman, and Taliaferro, eds. 90). Therefore, it proposes theoretical principles, which pay close attention to the significance of the relative power of the nation in determining its goal. It also posits that in order to acquire a more clearer and specific general image of the foreign policy of a state, one should incorporate domestic aspects to accomplish the causal chain. The main aim of these arguments is to establish an outstanding theory in terms of international relations and politics (Rose 145). It attempts to describe the behaviours of a foreign policy of a certain country at any situation or time.

Work cited

Dueck, Colin. “Neoclassical realism and the national interest.” The Realism Reader (2014): 272.

Lobell, Steven E., Norrin M. Ripsman, and Jeffrey W. Taliaferro, eds. Neoclassical realism, the state, and foreign policy. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Rose, Gideon. “Neoclassical realism and theories of foreign policy.” World politics 51.1 (1998): 144-172.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price