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International Relations

Dive into the field of international relations, a branch of political science concerned with relations between nations, primarily in terms of foreign policies. International relations, or international affairs, also involves nonstate actors such as the United Nations (UN) and Amnesty International.

This interdisciplinary field ties together political science, geography, history, economics, law, sociology, psychology, and philosophy at the global level. Issues central to this discipline include diplomatic relations, globalization, state sovereignty, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, global finance, international security, terrorism, and human rights.

There are two major approaches to international relations: realism and liberalism. Realism in international relations is based on a belief that the desire for power over other states is the motivating principle in a state’s foreign policy, with a strong focus on self-preservation. Foreign policy is based on a state’s ability and willingness to use military force; morality is not a guiding principle under this philosophy. Liberalism, on the other hand, focuses on the interconnectedness of states and their interests, which must necessarily result in the decreased use of military power to achieve foreign policy aims. Instead, international cooperation is emphasized.

International relations scholars typically break down their analysis in one of four ways: (1) system level, specifically how the international system affects the behavior of nation-states; (2) state level, which examines how a state’s characteristics determine its foreign policy behavior; (3) organizational level, or analysis of how organizations within a state influence the state’s foreign policy behavior; and (4) individual level, which examines the impact of leaders of states on their states’ foreign policy.

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International Relations Resources

Gale provides international relations resources that support research, including databasesprimary source archives, and eBooks.


Gale databases offer these international relations databases to support research.

Primary Source Archives

Gale Primary Sources contains full-text international relations publications that provide researchers with firsthand content, including historical documents, international relations journals, and news articles that can be used to examine and analyze international relations.

Gale eBooks

Gale offers a variety of eBooks covering a wide range of international relations publications, including trade and more. Users can add Gale eBooks to a customized collection and cross-search to pinpoint relevant content. Workflow tools help users easily share, save, and download content.

  • The SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy, 1st Edition

    The SAGE Handbook of European Foreign Policy, 1st Edition

    SAGE UK | 2015 | ISBN-13: 9781473914421

    This text is a major reference work for European policy programs. The handbook is designed to be accessible to graduate and postgraduate students in a wide variety of disciplines across the humanities and social sciences, and is structured to address areas of critical concern to scholars at the cutting edge of all major dimensions of foreign policy.

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  • The SAGE Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations, 1st Edition

    The SAGE Handbook of the History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations, 1st Edition

    SAGE | 2018 | ISBN-13: 9781526415622

    This book offers a panoramic overview of the broad field of international relations by integrating three distinct but interrelated foci. It retraces the historical development of international relations (IR) as a professional field of study, explores the philosophical foundations of IR, and interrogates the sociological mechanisms through which scholarship is produced and the field is structured. With chapters from both established scholars and an emerging generation of innovative metatheorists and theoretically driven empiricists, the handbook fosters discussion of the field from the inside out, forcing us to come to grips with the widely held perception that IR is experiencing an existential crisis quite unlike anything else in its 100-year history. This timely and innovative reference volume reflects on situated scholarly practices in a way that projects our collective thinking into the future.

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  • U.S. International Trade Policy: An Introduction, 1st Edition

    U.S. International Trade Policy: An Introduction, 1st Edition

    Praeger | 2016 | ISBN-13: 9781440833687

    This book begins with coverage of the basic framework of international economics that readers need to grasp in order to understand trade policy. The next two sections cover the tools of trade policy and the political factors that drive their use. The author then discusses the history of trade policy, describes how it has evolved over time, and explains where it’s headed in the future. Readers will come away with a working understanding of topics such as balance of payments, the current account, comparative advantage, government export subsidies, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and more.

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