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INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:

MEANING, NATURE SCOPE, ORIGIN-DEVELOPMENT AND APPROACHES

SCOPE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS CONTENTS:


1.0 INTRODUCTION
2.0 OBJECTIVES
3.0 SCOPE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
4.0 CONCLUSION
1.0 INTRODUCTION
As a field of study, IR has elastic boundaries. The sub-fields it encompasses define its scope. Since it
contains a myriads of disciplines, attempts to intellectualize it have often been thematically and analytically
confined to boundaries determine by the available data and facts. The core concepts of international relations
are foreign policy, international law, international organization, international conflicts, International Economic
Relations, military thought and strategy. IR also covers such areas as state sovereignty, ecological sustainability,
biodiversity, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, terrorism, economic development, terrorism, organized crime,
foreign interventionism, human security and human rights. Similarly, IR covers other areas like gender studies,
peace studies, postmodernism, globalization, feminism, collective security, diplomacy, crisis management,
democracy, integration, international development, and interdependence.
2.0 OBJECTIVES
After reading this unit, you should be able to:
11. Define the scope of international relations.
22. Identify the sub-fields of international relations.
33. Why are theories important to the study of IR?
3.0 MAIN CONTENT: Scope of International Relations
The scope of international relations has greatly expanded over the years and of late scholars have tried to
build up certain theories of international politics. Until very recent time, scholars studied international politics
as it is and paid no attention to the problems of policies, as it ought to be. They conceived international relations
as generalized picture of the international scene and did not build up any theories with a view to explaining the
behavior on the international scene. However, in recent years, scholars under the impact of behavioral sciences
have tried to build up theories of international politics and the scope of the subject has undergone great changes.
The scholars, instead of giving a historical narrative of the world have preferred to discuss the various
events. Generally, all students of IR must begin with an introduction to the basic vocabulary of the discipline.
This is known as IR theory. IR theory is basic to the study of world politics in that it represents a series of
attempts to explain or understand the world in ways that frame the debates in foreign policy, law, ethics, security
studies etc. Put differently, IR theory attempts to elaborate general principles that can help orientate us in our
encounter with the complexities of world politics.
The need for a general viewpoint has influenced the development of IR as an academic discipline. Every
aspect of IR focuses on key issues and ideas, highlighting them as worthy of attention because of their
explanatory or critical force. Some arguments highlight specific characteristics of international politics. For
instance, many IR scholars have sought to highlight the existence of the sovereign nation-state as the principal
actor in world politics. The fact that nation-states are sovereign means that they are legally and politically
independent. As s field of study, international relations conceived in such broad terms as all social relations that
transcend national boundaries.
Thus, the focus of the introductory course remains the political processes of international society. One of
the reasons for the wide range of approaches to the study of international affairs and for the absence of an
agreed-upon frame of reference is the lack of a basic theory. Many scholars of a theoretical bent of mind have
made significant contributions to the formulation of such a theory, and many practitioners of diplomacy have

called attention to the need for further work in this field. The subject deals with important aspects of human
nature and conduct, with the behavior and standards of groups, with the principles and forces underlying and
motivating national and international actions, with ideological considerations, with ends and means, and with
values and value judgments and hypotheses.
As Stanley Hoffmann has suggested, the discipline of international relations is concerned with the
factors and activities which, affect the external policies and the power of the basic units into which the world is
divided and these include a wide variety of transnational relationships, political and non-political, official and
unofficial, formal and informal. All of these and many related considerations are of deep concern to the social
philosopher.
Thus, a philosophy of international relations may be an appropriate term for this area of ideology,
visions, values, principles, plans and solutions in the area of foreign politics. Obviously, one way to keep
abreast of current trends in international relations research is to consult professional journals in the field, such as
Journal of International Affairs (Published by the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, (NIIA) Lagos.
Similarly, any student of international relations should also have some knowledge of the most important
writings and the distinctive contributions of eminent scholars in the field. Among these are E. H. Carr, Hans
Morgenthau, Quincy Wright, Morton Kaplan, Karl Deutsch, David Singer, Walter Lippmann, and so forth.
4.0 CONCLUSION
As a field of study, IR has elastic boundaries. The sub-fields it encompasses define its scope. Since it contains a
myriads of disciplines, attempts to intellectualize it have often been thematically and analytically confined to boundaries
determine by the available data and facts. Over the years, international relations scope has greatly expanded as scholars
try to build up certain theories of international politics. IR theory attempts to elaborate general principles that can help
orientate us in our encounter with the complexities of world politics. The subject deals with important aspects of human
nature and conduct, with the behavior and standards of groups, with the principles and forces underlying and motivating
national and international actions, with ideological considerations, with ends and means, and with values and value
judgments and hypotheses.