This chapter is intended to provide an overview of contemporary IR theory, ranging from structural realism and liberal institutionalism, through constructivism and other post-positivist approaches, including the English School, gender theory and postcolonialism to contemporary eclecticism and the so-called ‘end of IR theory’. A great deal of ground will be covered in relatively few words, and so this chapter is best seen as an exercise in sign-posting; the aim will be not to give a full account of each approach but to show how these approaches relate to each other and to point interested students towards the relevant literature. Many of the issues raised below will be followed up in greater detail in later chapters; the aim here is to convey a sense of how these issues relate to each other and to the wider project of developing theory in IR.
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