The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations

The book under review is “The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations”, edited by John Baylis, Patricia Owens, and Steve Smith. It has eight editions, the first edition was published in 1997, and the 8th in 2018. The eighth edition of the book features several new chapters that reflect on the latest developments in the field, including postcolonial and decolonial approaches, and refugees and forced migration. The book is divided into five major parts and each part is further divided into subparts or chapters. The first part of the book is entitled ‘International relations in a global era’ which is the introductory part of the book. This part has sought to elucidate the concept of globalization and identify its implications for the study of world politics. It has been argued that globalization reconstructs the world as a shared social space. In focusing upon the consequences of globalization for the study of international relations, this part has argued that it engenders a fundamental shift in the constitution of world politics. Post-Westphalian world order is in the making as sovereign statehood is transformed by the dynamics of globalization. A conceptual shift in our thinking is therefore required: from geopolitics (or inter-state politics) to global politics the politics of state and non-state actors within a shared global social space. The second part of the book is ‘The historical context’. The writers mainly focused on historical events and the evolution of international relations from the Westphalian model to the end of the cold war and the war on terror. It debates the origins of WWI, WW11, the process of decolonization, some civil and regional wars which were intensified and prolonged by superpower involvement, and the spread of nuclear weapons during the cold war era. The third part of the book is ‘Theories of world politics’ which is dealing with the important theories of international relations and their applications to global events. Firstly, the writers tried to grasp the main themes of the theories that have been most influential in explaining world politics. To this end, they included in this part a few chapters on the other main theoretical perspectives on world politics: Neo-Realism, Neo-Liberalism, Marxism, Constructivism, Poststructuralism, post-colonialism, and international ethic. Moreover, part four of the book which is titled ‘Structures and processes’, give a good overview of some of the most important structures and processes in world politics at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the authors have chosen a series of ways of thinking about world politics that draw attention to underlying features. This part has shown that, among other things, the globalization of world politics is a deep economic affair. The growth of global trade and finance has deeply shaped and been shaped by the general developments. Economic globalization has affected different places and persons to different extents, and it has far eliminated older core structures of world politics: territory, state, and nation. However, these developments have already shifted many contours of geography, governance, and community; and economic globalization seems likely to unfold further still in the future. The last and fifth part of the book is “International issues”. This part explores and illustrates the contested nature of several important issues of International Relations. Ranging from poverty, security, environment, nuclear proliferation, and terrorism, the authors provide interesting insights into the problems from many perspectives. The chapter then closes with an assessment of the likelihood of globalization with a human face in the twenty-first century. The writers adopted an upright approach to elaborate the concepts, integrated learning features, including case studies and questions, fully updated debating feature, and end of chapter questions, are all carefully written to help readers to develop a critical, nuanced understanding of key issues and theories.  In addition to that, the strength of each chapter varies wildly; while I found few chapters on realism, constructivism, and Marxism pretty descriptive, sections like those about the impact of post-colonialism or feminism were largely lacking. Pedagogical features such as case studies and questions, a debating feature, and end-of-chapter questions help readers to evaluate key IR debates and apply theory and IR concepts to real-world events.  The authors also include a rather excellent Glossary at the end of the text, which prepares readers with precisely the kind of vocabulary needed to navigate a field as academic as international relations. In short, we can say the content of the book is sheer justice to the title and reputation of the book.

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