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Understanding International Relations, Third Edition

Understanding International Relations, Third Edition

Author: Chris Brown

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan


Publish Date: May 15, 2009

ISBN-10: 1403946639

Pages: 320

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

The most important change to the third edition of Understanding InternationalRelations is that this is now a collaborative book. Kirsten Ainley wrote Chapter 11, revised Chapters 2–6, carried out bibliographical work for the entire book, and read and commented on every chapter. This collaboration has worked remarkably well; Kirsten has produced an outstanding chapter, and the book as a whole is much improved by her contribution. In short, this is now her book as well as mine, although, since the basic structure and many of its idiosyncrasies are inherited from earlier editions, I remain, in the last resort, solely responsible for its content.


In the Preface to the last edition a fuller account of globalization in future editions was promised and we hope we have delivered on this promise in the third edition. However, the second edition was published in the Spring of 2001, six months before the attacks on America on 9/11; just for once, the cliché is appropriate – things really will never be the same again, and inevitably this third edition reflects the fallout from 9/11 and its causes which, of course, are by no means unconnected to the processes we summarize as globalization.

Chapters 1 to 6 – which trace the history of the discourse of International Relations (IR) and its core concepts – remain more or less as in previous editions, with a few additional illustrations and examples, and fully updated guides to further reading. Chapters 7–9, ‘Global Governance’, ‘The Global Economy’ and ‘Globalization’, reorganize material to be found spread over five chapters of the last edition. Some purely historical material has been eliminated, and there has been some pruning, but this change is largely a matter of reorganization rather than extensive cutting. One substantive change is that there is no longer a chapter devoted to the South. This is a deliberate move as the category of the South no longer makes sense in terms of either the world economy or of world political, social or cultural factors. However, it must be stressed that this does not mean that issues of global inequality are neglected, that the problems of poorer countries are sidelined, or that theories of international relations that address these problems are marginalized. On the contrary, such issues crop up continually through the second half of the book, and actually are given more attention precisely because they are not ghettoized into a separate chapter.

Chapters 10–12 are substantially new, although they contain some material that appeared in the first and second editions. Chapter 10 examines the new international politics of identity, the revival of religion as a factor in IR, and the post-1989 revival of nationalism. Chapter 11 focuses on the rise of the individual as an international actor, the politics of human rights, recent developments in international criminal law, and the notion of humanitarian intervention. Chapter 12 addresses the issue of American hegemony. As will be apparent, these three chapters are all, in very different ways, about both globalization and 9/11.

We would like to thank Michael Ainley, Michael Cox, Kimberly Hutchings and Nathalie Wlodarczyk for their comments on particular chapters, our publisher, Steven Kennedy and an anonymous reviewer for Palgrave Macmillan for his/her enthusiasm for the text.


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