1st Edition

Realism and Global Governance

By Jennifer Sterling Folker Copyright 2018
    160 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume provides a clear, comprehensive introduction to realism for use in making sense of global governance.

    While realism is arguably the best known mainstream perspective in international relations theory, the literature on international organization (IO) and global governance (GG) conveys the impression that realism has little to contribute to the topic. In fact, however realism offers a nuanced, comprehensive and compelling perspective on IO and GG. This volume provides a clear and concise introduction to this realist understanding of contemporary order, organization, and management in world affairs.

    The book:

    • Introduces students to the core tenets of realism, and particularly its focus on nation-states as central for understanding the dynamics of IO and GG. 
    • Explores the key current debates, including the role that competition and balance of power plays in encouraging cooperation and institution-building.
    • Considers the key criticisms of realism focusing on the issues of governance, liberalism, and ethics and exploring an emerging realist focus on inter-state socialization. Folker highlights the benefits of a realist perspective when examining a variety of actors and processes in contemporary world order, including democracies, economic interdependence, international and non-governmental organizations, international law, citizenship and national identity. 
    • Analyses emerging directions in realist theory as they relate to the topics of global organization and governance

    Providing concrete illustrations throughout the volume, contemporary issues, such as financial and ecological crises, terrorism, peacekeeping, and the plight of refugees, are used as concrete, illustrative examples of realism’s utility for explaining global governance phenomena.This work will be essential reading for all students of international organization and global governance.


    Jennifer Sterling-Folker is a Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Connecticut. She is an international relations theorist whose writing focuses on theories of international organization and global governance. She is a co-editor of the BISA journal, Review of International Studies, and is currently the Alan R. Bennett Honors Endowed Professor of Political Science at the University of Connecticut.