Thinking Theory Thoroughly: Coherent Approaches to an Incoherent World

Rosenau, James N

Think that theory is thoroughly removed from explaining international crises such as Bosnia, Rwanda, and Korea? Think again! James Rosenau and Mary Durfee have teamed up to show that the same events take on different coloration depending on the theory used to explain them. In order to better understand world politics, the authors maintain, theory does make a difference.Thinking Theory Thoroughly is a primer for all kinds of readers who want to begin theorizing about international relations (IR). Using realism--the dominant theoretical perspective in IR--and postinternationalism (Rosenau's famed turbulence paradigm) as oppositional models, the authors take us up the ladder of theory-building step by step and ask key questions along the way: Of what is this an instance? What underlying dynamic of world politics does it reflect? What different explanations might realists and postinternationalists offer?Case studies on the U.N. and Antarctica are developed with an eye to their theoretical dimensions. Then a chapter on international crises--encompassing the Cuban missile crisis; protests in Tiananmen Square; and refugee flights from Haiti, Cuba, and Rwanda--shows how theories, and theorists, are tested in situations characterized by surprise, short timelines, and disrupted decisionmaking.

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