Theorizing is a process through which we refine knowledge, producing a concentration of insights into international affairs. This nature of theory explains why theory is a prime shortcut to knowledge about international affairs. Of course we can, in principle, spend a lifetime building such knowledge but usually we cannot wait that long. Sometimes we only have one term at our disposal to grasp the essentials of one or more aspects of international relations. In this context, theory can basically do two things for us. First, it can in a very efficient fashion simplify what is otherwise a very complex world that many people find almost incomprehensible or at least difficult to grasp. Second, theory functions as a guide to the analysis of international actors, structures or processes. The guide points out who are or what is important, so that we can focus our attention on that and legitimately ignore other unimportant beings and doings. This sounds relatively easy and is only complicated by the disquieting fact that, as in all areas of social science, there are several contending theoretical perspectives and approaches. There is nothing we can do about the fact that the social sciences are characterized by more approaches than arrivals. What we can do is become acquainted with the major perspectives and approaches. It is therefore the aim of this book to introduce the main traditions, currents of thought and numerous specific theories, that is, the main layers of theoretical reflections on international relations.
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Knud Erik Jørgensen
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