As was established at the outset, Understanding International Relations sets out to provide an introduction to the discipline of International Relations, and is certainly not intended as a guide to current affairs. On the other hand, it would be unfortunate in the extreme if the kinds of theoretical debates presented in the main body of the book were to be understood as having no impact on the way the world is; we are entitled to ask of any social science that it illuminates the real-world subject matter it purports to theorize, and International Relations is no exception to this rule. In recent years, International Relations theory — in both its conventional, ‘positivist’ guise as well as in explicitly post-positivist work — has become increasingly abstract, but the intention is, or at least should be, to be ‘action-guiding’ rather than simply ‘world-revealing’, to use Stephen White’s distinction (White 1991). Accordingly, in this final chapter, the aim is to try to apply some of the ideas set out in earlier chapters to the current world order, and to identify — albeit tentatively — some trends we expect to come to fruition in the years ahead.
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- The Shape of Things to Come
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- Chapter 12