This book is an introduction to the discipline of International Relations;‘International Relations’ (with initial capitals – here frequently shortened to IR) is the study of ‘international relations’ (lower case). The use of upper and lower case in this way has become conventional and will be employed throughout this book. But what are ‘international relations’? A survey of the field suggests that a number of different definitions are employed. For some, international relations means the diplomatic–strategic relations of states, and the characteristic focus of IR is on issues of war and peace, conflict and cooperation. Others see international relations as being about cross-border transactions of all kinds, political, economic and social, and IR is as likely to study trade negotiations or the operation of non-state institutions such as Amnesty International as it is conventional peace talks or the workings of the United Nations. Again, and with increasing frequency in the twenty-first century, some focus on globalization – studying, for example, world communication, transport and financial systems, global business corporations and the putative emergence of a global society. These conceptions obviously bear some family resemblances, nevertheless, each has quite distinct features. Which definition we adopt will have real consequences for the rest of our study, and thus will be more than simply a matter of convenience.
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