The International System as Social Construct (2022)

How much of the international system is ‘socially constructed’? To what extent does the theory of social constructivism offer the best explanation for the reasons why?

Introduction

In his seminal work Theory of International Politics, Kenneth Waltz points to the international system as the prime determinant of international relations. Thus, the number of great powers and their configuration within an anarchic structure provides all states with a similar set of interests (Waltz, 1979). Over the last three decades, Waltz’ Neorealist approach to International Relations has been the dominant way many scholars and students study the subject. Yet, this Neorealist approach has come under increasing attacks. One such attack comes from the Constructivist school, which argues that while there may be an international system, it is socially constructed and therefore has features different from those promulgated by Neorealist theorists.

What do we mean by social construction, and, if there is such a thing, how does it impinge on the practice and study of international relations? This essay will assess the extent to which it can be said that the international system is indeed socially constructed. In order to go about answering this question, it will be outlined briefly what is conventionally understood by the term international system in the Neorealist sense. Subsequently, the essay will illustrate what social construction as a concept entails and how the international system may be understood as a socially constructed entity. Lastly, Social Constructivism as a theory of International Relations will be contrasted with Neo-Gramscian theories as an alternative way to explain the social construction of the international system. The essay will conclude that the international system is fundamentally a socially constructed entity which can be best approached by theories of Social Constructivism.

The International System

In Man, the State, and War, Kenneth Waltz distinguishes three levels of analysis to explain the occurrence of conflict; individual agents, nation states, and the international system (Waltz, 1959). In further redefining Realist theory in the 1970s and 1980s, the international system came to be the focal point of a Neorealist analysis of international politics. According to Neorealists, the system is fundamentally characterized by the absence of centralized order. There is no sovereign to keep nation states from doing what they must in order to realize their national interests. Subsequently, this feature of the international system conditions the behavior of states as they see themselves confronted with the state of anarchy.

Thus, for Neorealists – and others including Neoliberal Institutionalists and many Marxist theorists – the international system is a more or less fixed entity which arises due to the fundamental properties of the world we inhabit. While the number and configuration of nation states within the system may be subject to change, anarchy as a defining feature remains immutable and informs states’ actions. States’ interests are dictated by their position within the system and the capabilities they possess. Yet, this definition of the international system can be challenged from a multitude of perspectives. Material structures do not necessarily dictate outcomes, and social identities play a role in shaping an intersubjective world. These notions build on a conception of social construction.

What is Social Construction?

(Video) The International System

In contrast to the materialist conception of the international system offered most prominently by Neorealists, there are other approaches which emphasize that the system should not be taken as a given. Rather, the system is socially constructed not only by the agents which inhabit it, but also by the interplay between agents and system. Wendt offers a two-part definition of what social construction refers to. For one, it reflects that ‘the fundamental structures of international politics are social rather than strictly material’ (1995: 71). Secondly, it conveys that structures not only shape behavior, but fundamentally define actors’ identities and interests (1995: 71-2). Crucially, the concept of structuration as developed by Giddens (1979: 5) plays a central role with regard to how agents and structures are interrelated and condition each other. Thus, agents are neither completely independent from the environment in which they have been socialized, nor entirely determined by it. The corollary is that the mutual relationship between agents and structures is an ongoing process rather than a rigid straight jacket.

Hence, agents help to shape structure and reproduce that very structure continuously. Structure is not exogenous, but only makes sense to agents given a particular context. Therefore, structure can take on different meanings at different times. In this context, the concept of intersubjectivity is crucial in understanding what social construction means. Hopf maintains that ‘meaningful behavior, or action, is possible only within an intersubjective social context’ (1998: 173). To understand what intersubjectivity refers to, it is helpful to employ Karl Popper’s conceptualization of the three worlds. Whereas worlds one and two are the physical and subjective worlds, respectively, world three is the world that is created through language and cultural practices (Popper, 1982: 118) Thus, against the backdrop of the physical and the subjective worlds, there is an intersubjective world that is characterized by the fact that it exists by virtue of collective agreement. This notion builds on the work of Habermas in the sense that ‘social reality is not an objective category, but relies on conventions that are widely accepted’ (Steans et al., 2004: 188).

Intersubjectivity leads to the establishment of what are called social facts. Searle points out that ‘there are portions of the real world, objective facts in the world, that are only facts by human agreement’ (1995: 1). For instance, it can be argued that the anarchic character of the international system exists because we all agree that this is the case. Whereas Neorealists and others maintain that anarchy exists independently of the particular agents and their interactions, those arguing that the international system is socially constructed point out that anarchy is not necessarily monolithic. Wendt famously proclaims that ‘anarchy is what states make of it’ (1992: 395), while Milner highlights that it is not always clear what anarchy refers to and that it may change subject to different contexts (1991). Thus, in contrast to the argument that anarchy follows some sort of logic, it is rather a constructed institution which emerges due to agents giving it a particular meaning.

The particular meanings that are given to different features of the international system make up an important part of the argument for social construction. Conventionally, only the actors’ behavior is taken as being significant. Yet, social identities represent an essential feature which determines the shape of the international system. Neufeld defines intersubjective meanings as ‘the product of the collective self-interpretations and self-definitions of human communities’ (1995: 77). For instance, the United States’ particular self-identity as a great global power and free trading hegemon has a bearing on the international system in the sense that it defines its interests. Contrary to Waltz’ assumption that all states are functionally similar (1990: 36), Hall argues that the ‘social construction of identities […] is necessarily prior to more obvious conceptions of interests’ (1993: 51). Identities not only affect national interests, but generate them in the first place.

In turn, social identities are essential in defining the structure of the international system. Reus-Smit has associated emergent human rights norms with the redefinition of what sovereignty meant during the period of decolonization (2001: 520). Moreover, the European Union serves as a useful example to illustrate that the social construction of an identity – being European – can radically transform states’ interests. It would be hard to argue that European states are subject to the type of Hobbesian anarchy Neorealists subscribe to with regard to their mutual relations. Rather, they share a collective understanding of the idea of Europe. Therefore, Adler maintains that the EU should be understood as a security community defined by certain practices and shared meanings (1997: 345). Hence, the international system is socially constructed through the generation and reproduction of identities as well as shared or divergent collective understandings.

Theorizing Social Construction

There are a plethora of IR theories which see the world as socially constructed. Most obviously, Social Constructivism has become the most notable challenger to Neorealist and Neoliberal theories of International Relations. However, both Postmodernism as well as Neo-Gramscian theories also feature strongly constructivist characteristics. All of these theories differ with regard to the extent that they emphasize the non-material basis of world politics. Whereas Neo-Gramscian theory pays more attention to material structure, Postmodernism focuses on the role played by language and communication. Social Constructivism is situated somewhere between these positions.

Social Constructivism focuses on how the physical world is interpreted by subjective agents, and how that interpretation is reproduced and changes over time as people interact with each other. Adler defines Constructivism as

‘the view that the manner in which the material world shapes and is shaped by human action and interaction depends on dynamic normative and epistemic interpretations of the material world’ (1997: 322).

(Video) time is a social construct

As such, Constructivism does not dismiss the reality or significance of the material world, but rather investigates in what way this material world has a bearing on people’s identities and actions. As Tannenwald notes, the meaning of material power is ultimately defined by ideas (2005: 19). Therefore, while the material world – that is economic wealth, military power, population size and so on – certainly matters, it is the interpretation of it that is crucial. In this context, Wendt cautions that ‘power and interest have the effects they do in virtue of the ideas that make them up’ (1999: 35)

It is important to note that, as pointed out by Checkel, Constructivists do not differ from mainstream theories epistemologically, but in an ontological sense (1998: 327). Thus, while they question conventional approaches to the international system in terms of their conception of structure and material power, Constructivists acknowledge that there are truths to be uncovered and that there is space for causal explanation. In this respect, Constructivism contrasts more strongly with deliberatively interpretive postmodern approaches, some of which claim that reality ‘can be nothing other than a text’ (Alexander, 1995: 103). On this basis, Constructivism can offer powerful explanations as to how particular states conceive of their self-identity, how interests are shaped and how material and ideational power are interrelated.

A somewhat different approach to social construction is offered by Neo-Gramscian theories. This approach emphasizes the role played by material structure in legitimizing certain ideas over others. Thus, ideas only gain currency if supported by a ‘particular configuration of social classes and ideology that gives content to a historical state’ (Cox, 1987: 409). The analysis is different from a Constructivist perspective in that it seeks to distinguish which ideas succeed and which forces prevail over others. Neo-Gramscian approaches see ideas as a legitimizing force (Bieler, 2001: 97). Thus, in a sense this approach turns Constructivism on its head; ideas are vapid if not rooted in material structure. By contrast, Constructivism claims that the material world is unintelligible in the absence of intersubjective meanings.

Nevertheless, while highlighting the dialectical relationship between ideas and material structure, Neo-Gramscian approaches do not offer an explanation of social construction equivalent to Constructivist theories. Intersubjectivity, social meanings and identities are reduced to derivatives of material structures rather than powerful transformative practices. For this reason, social construction can best be approached through a Constructivist perspective which highlights how the material world is transformed through the interaction between agents and structures. It emphasizes how interests and identities are shaped by beliefs and norms that are produced and reproduced in conjunction with structure.

Conclusion

This essay has outlined how the international system is conventionally understood, to what extent it can be said to be socially constructed, and how theories of Constructivism and Neo-Gramscian approaches help to explain the international system as a socially constructed entity. In contrast to Neorealist framings of the international system, there are clear indications that intersubjective meanings and social identities shape the system in multiple ways. Social construction builds on a more convincing notion of structure which does not depend on a mechanical and overly deterministic view of how structure dictates actions. While Neo-Gramscian approaches offer an alternative perspective, they ultimately treat ideas as derivative of structure. Hence, Constructivism provides a framework that features both interpretive as well as explanatory dimensions.

References

Adler, E., ‘Seizing the Middle Ground: Constructivism in World Politics’, European Journal of International Relations 3/3 (1997), pp. 319-363.

Alexander, J. C., Fin de Siècle Social Theory: Relativism, Reduction and the Problem of Reason (London: Verso, 1995).

(Video) Constructivism International Relations (Explained in English in 7 minutes)

Bieler, A., ‘Questioning Cognitivism and Constructivism in IR Theory: Reflection on the Material Structure of Ideas’, Politics 21/2 (2001), pp. 93-100.

Checkel, J., ‘The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory’, World Politics 50/2 (1998), pp. 324-348.

Cox, R. W., Production, Power and World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987).

Giddens, A., Central Problems in Social Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979).

Hall, J. A., ‘Ideas and the Social Sciences’, in: Goldstein, J., Keohane, R., (eds.), Ideas and Foreign Policy: Beliefs, Institutions, and Political Change (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 31-54.

Hopf, T., ’The Promise of Constructivism in International Relations Theory‘, International Security 23/1 (1998), pp. 171-200.

Milner, H., ‘The Assumption of Anarchy in International Relations Theory: A Critique’, Review of International Studies 17/1 (1991), pp. 37-85.

Neufeld, M. A., The Restructuring of International Relations Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Popper, K., ‘Indeterminism Is Not Enough: An Afterword’, in: Bartley III, W. W. (ed.), The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism (Totowa: Rowman and Littlefield, 1982), pp. 113-130.

(Video) Anarchy is what states make of it (A. Wendt)

Reus-Smit, C., ‘Human Rights and the Social Construction of Sovereignty’, Review of International Studies 27 (2001), pp. 519-538.

Searle, J., The Construction of Social Reality (New York: Free Press, 1995).

Steans, J., Pettiford, L., Diez, T., El-Anis, I., An Introduction to International Relations Theory: Perspectives and Themes (London: Longman, 2004).

Tannenwald, N., ‘Ideas and Explanation: Advancing the Theoretical Agenda’, Journal of Cold War Studies 7/2 (2005), pp. 13-42.

Waltz, K. N., Man, the State and War: A Theoretical Analysis (New York: Columbia University Press, 1959).

Waltz, K. N., ‘Realist Thought and Neorealist Theory’, Journal of International Affairs 44/1 (1990), pp. 21-37.

Waltz, K. N., Theory of International Politics (New York: McGraw Hill, 1979).

Wendt, A., ‘Anarchy is what States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics’, International Organization 46/2 (1992), pp. 391-425.

Wendt, A., Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

(Video) International Relations, Conflict and Security MA


Written by: Tim Pfefferle
Written at: Queen Mary, University of London
Written for: Prof Rick Saull
Date written: 01/2014

Further Reading on E-International Relations

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  • Is the International System Racist?
  • Is War A Social Construction?
  • Social Constructivism Vs. Neorealism in Analysing the Cold War
  • Breaking and Entering: Subverting Sovereignty Despite the International System
  • To Reform the World or to Close the System? International Law and World-making

FAQs

How international system is a social construct? ›

Hence, the international system is socially constructed through the generation and reproduction of identities as well as shared or divergent collective understandings. There are a plethora of IR theories which see the world as socially constructed.

What is a social construct meaning? ›

Definition of social construct

: an idea that has been created and accepted by the people in a society Class distinctions are a social construct.

What is social construct in politics? ›

Social constructionism is a rhetorical strategy. Judgements are made by social actors in terms of their understanding of biographical experiences, the prospective political utility of the analysis offered, and the context in which they find themselves.

What is constructivism in international relations essay? ›

In the field of international relations, constructivism stands for the belief that crucial features of international relations are collectively and historically conditional, rather than predictable effects of human nature and other vital elements of world politics.

What are examples of social construct? ›

Simply put, social constructs do not have inherent meaning. The only meaning they have is the meaning given to them by people. For example, the idea that pink is for girls and blue is for boys is an example of a social construct related to gender and the color of items.

How are social constructs formed? ›

Social construct theory says that humans create constructs in order to make sense of the objective world. One way humans create social constructs is by structuring what they see and experience into categories.

What are the 3 stages in the social construction? ›

This book describes three steps involved in reality construction: Externalization : Society is a human product. Objectivation : Society is an objective reality. Internalisation : Man is a social product.

Who created social construction theory? ›

Social constructivism was developed by post-revolutionary Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky was a cognitivist, but rejected the assumption made by cognitivists such as Piaget and Perry that it was possible to separate learning from its social context.

Why does community is a social construct? ›

Not only is the concept of a community a "construct" (model), it is a "sociological construct." It is a set of interactions, human behaviours that have meaning and expectations between its members. Not just action, but actions based on shared expectations, values, beliefs and meanings between individuals.

What is the main idea of social constructivism? ›

Social constructivism focuses on the collaborative nature of learning. Knowledge develops from how people interact with each other, their culture, and society at large. Students rely on others to help create their building blocks, and learning from others helps them construct their own knowledge and reality.

What is a social construct philosophy? ›

Social constructionism posits that phenomena do not have an independent foundation outside the mental and linguistic representation that people develop about them throughout their history, and which becomes their shared reality.

What does it mean to see reality as a social construct? ›

Sociologists generally accept that reality is different for each individual. The term social construction of reality refers to the theory that the way we present ourselves to other people is shaped partly by our interactions with others, as well as by our life experiences.

Why is constructivism theory important in international relations? ›

The discipline of International Relations benefits from constructivism as it addresses issues and concepts that are neglected by mainstream theories – especially realism. Doing so, constructivists offer alternative explanations and insights for events occurring in the social world.

What are the major theories of international relations? ›

The five main theories of international relations include: realism theory, liberalism theory, Marxism theory, constructivism theory, and feminism theory.

What are the advantages of constructivism? ›

Constructivism promotes social and communication skills by creating a classroom environment that emphasizes collaboration and exchange of ideas. Students must learn how to articulate their ideas clearly as well as to collaborate on tasks effectively by sharing in group projects.

What are some of the impacts of social constructs in our society? ›

Social constructs create a suffocating reality which tells us what to think of certain individuals and communities. This leads to the development of hostility across different societies who hold different views to one another.

What influences social constructs? ›

Social constructs are often created within specific institutions and cultures and come to prominence in certain historical periods. Social constructs' dependence of historical, political, and economic conditions can lead them to evolve and change.

What is the social construction of social problems? ›

One way to study social problems is to take a social constructionist approach. This approach suggests that the degree to which a social problem is perceived as problematic, as well as the kind of problem it is understood to be, is a function of social interaction.

Is education a social construct? ›

The concept of higher education is a type of social construction since it has been created in order to ensure people a promising and secure future; as well as, a stable life. Education itself helps us understand the world around us and enables us to adapt to the way society is structured.

Is nature a social construct? ›

Most of our ideas and assumptions of what nature is are socially constructed — understood to have a certain meaning because people agree that it does. “… nature is understood as that state, condition, or quality that is before, separate from, or outside of society, human history, and volition.”

Is culture a social construct? ›

Not only are societies socially constructed, but so are cultures. More importantly, cultures are socially constructed. Ideas, feelings, and information is externalized (structural epistemology) and are reified in the process (objectification).

What are the four key points of social constructionism? ›

Through an analysis of 65 scholarly works in both communication and business journals, this study proposes a four-dimensional model of social constructionist crisis research (SCCR): (1) cause – the objective facticity and subjective meaning of crisis; (2) text – a constitutive view of language; (3) meaning – multiple ...

Why is social constructionism wrong? ›

The main criticisms levelled against social constructionism can be summarised by its perceived conceptualisation of realism and relativism. It is accused of being anti-realist, in denying that knowledge is a direct perception of reality (Craib 1997).

Is time a social construct? ›

Time is a social construct that we build to plan and schedule our lives. Thus, we are bound to the constructs of the culture we are in. We must embrace the cultures thoroughly to understand who they are in their time and space. Uni CV Professors accommodate and focus on others every day throughout these halls.

What is social constructivism in international relations? ›

Social constructivism is a school of thought in International Relations (IR) theory. It was first coined by Nicholas Onuf in 1989 in his book “ The World of our making ” where he put forward that nation states much like individuals lived in a reality primarily formed by themselves rather than outside material entities.

What are the five principles of social constructivism? ›

These principles are: Teachers seek and value students' points of view. Classroom activities challenge student assumptions. Teachers pose problems of relevance.

What is the conclusion of social constructivism? ›

Social constructivism suggests that successful teaching and learning is heavily dependent on interpersonal interaction and discussion, with the primary focus on the students' understanding of the discussion (Prawat, 1992).

What is a socially constructed community? ›

Often has clubs, teams, groups etc. within the community. While different communities have different roles in society, they all share the same characteristcits. These characteristics could also be described as its social construction. They provide the building blocks that the community is built on.

Is everything socially constructed? ›

Everything is a social construct

Basically every part of our society is a social construct. Let's take money for example. Money and value only works because we all agree that it is a thing. Even the idea of a “gold standard” is a social construct.

What is social construction of identity? ›

A social constructionist perspective conceives that personal identity is established within the perception of self as derived from thoughtful reflection on communicative interactions between oneself and others from the societal environment.

What is an example of social constructivism? ›

Social constructivist approaches should require the students to collaborate and critically analyse the issue at hand. Some examples of collaborative learning activities are group problem solving, group inquiry, simulations, and debates.

What is an example of social construction of reality? ›

For example, your school exists as a school and not just as a building because you and others agree that it is a school. If your school is older than you are, it was created by the agreement of others before you. In a sense, it exists by consensus, both prior and current.

What is constructivism theory example? ›

Example: An elementary school teacher presents a class problem to measure the length of the "Mayflower." Rather than starting the problem by introducing the ruler, the teacher allows students to reflect and to construct their own methods of measurement.

Is virginity a social construct? ›

Sexuality is shaped (constructed) by social processes at the cultural and individual levels; thus virginity is socially constructed.

When did gender become a social construct? ›

The differentiation between gender and sex did not arise until the late 1970s, when researchers began using "gender" and "sex" as two separate terms, with "gender" referring to one's self-identity and "sex" referring to one's chromosomal makeup and sex organs.

Is happiness a social construct? ›

Social construction theory is about how we make sense of things. It assumes that we 'construct' mental representations, using collective notions as building blocks. In this view, happiness is regarded as a social construction, comparable to notions like 'beauty' and 'fairness'.

How is community as a sociological construct? ›

Not only is the concept of a community a "construct" (model), it is a "sociological construct." It is a set of interactions, human behaviours that have meaning and expectations between its members. Not just action, but actions based on shared expectations, values, beliefs and meanings between individuals.

Who is the father of constructivism? ›

Jean Piaget is referred to as the father of constructivism. Piaget's (1936) [1] theory of cognitive development gave sufficient details as to how children learn. According to Piaget, children learn by constructing a design in their minds of the environment they find themselves.

How many principles are there in constructivism? ›

Five Guiding Principles of Constructivism.

What are the three main levels of analysis in the study of international relations? ›

IR generally distinguishes between three levels of analysis: the system, the state, and the individual – but the group level is also important to consider as a fourth. To be able to use the level of analysis as an analytical device, we need to be clear about what we are most interested in.

What is the concept of international system? ›

The international system – a concept to describe the general development of the international relations – offers, in a systematic manner, ways and laws of interaction between different actors. In the past, there used to be several contemporary, mutually independent systems in the world.

What is the purpose of international relations? ›

International relations allows nations to cooperate with one another, pool resources, and share information as a way to face global issues that go beyond any particular country or region. Contemporary global issues include pandemics, terrorism, and the environment.

What is the purpose of international relations theory? ›

International relations theories can help us understand the way the international systems work, as well as how nations engage with each other and view the world.

What is the purpose of constructivism? ›

Constructivism is the theory that says learners construct knowledge rather than just passively take in information. As people experience the world and reflect upon those experiences, they build their own representations and incorporate new information into their pre-existing knowledge (schemas).

What are 2 key concepts in constructivist theory? ›

Two of the key concepts within the constructivism learning theory which create the construction of an individual's new knowledge are accommodation and assimilation. Assimilating causes an individual to incorporate new experiences into the old experiences.

What are the three important points of constructivism? ›

1) To provide experience with the knowledge construction process (students determine how they will learn). 2) To provide experience in and appreciation for multiple perspectives (evaluation of alternative solutions). 3) To embed learning in realistic contexts (authentic tasks).

What is structure of international system? ›

Structure is a set of overarching principles, rules, roles, and constraints that bind actors together into a larger system. It can organize or order actors into different relative positions of strength, wealth, influence, and status.

What are the main theoretical differences between an international system and an international society? ›

While international society refers to the intersubjectively agreed (or, indeed, contested) aspects of international politics, the concept of international system allows us to highlight the way in which social interactions have consequences 'outside the will of the community concerned' (Watson 1992: 311).

How can structure influence international outcomes? ›

How can structure influence international outcomes? By setting the costs and benefits of a whole range of actions(constrains). Also by altering identity and/or interests of actors (constitutes).

Is there such thing as an international society? ›

An international society exists when a group of like-minded states 'conceive themselves to be bound by a common set of rules in their relations with one another, and share in the working of common institutions' (Bull 1977, 13).

What is the concept of international system? ›

The international system – a concept to describe the general development of the international relations – offers, in a systematic manner, ways and laws of interaction between different actors. In the past, there used to be several contemporary, mutually independent systems in the world.

What are the four main features of an international system? ›

The existing international system is characterized by a diffusion of power among different state and non-state actors, a shift in a balance of regional and global powers, a relative weakening of established Western nations and emerging of new centers of power, increasing importance of regional integration, and return ...

What is meant by international system? ›

The term international system may refer to: In politics, international relations It is the global constellation of states. The term is commonly applied to the international systems of the Twentieth century and can equally be applied to pre industrial international state system.

What is an example of international society? ›

For example, the United Nations is an international organization, while the function of the Security Council demonstrates that the operation of the global international society is based on institutions like diplomacy, international law, balance of power, and great powers management.

How is international relations used in society? ›

The Value of International Relations in a Globalized Society

International relations promotes successful trade policies between nations. International relations encourages travel related to business, tourism, and immigration, providing people with opportunities to enhance their lives.

What are the core elements of the international society? ›

To these could be added: territoriality, nationalism, the market, and human equality. Since these rules are not legally binding and there is no ordering institutions, speaking of norms would probably be more appropriate. States that respect these basic rules form an international society.

What are the two main components of the international system? ›

The international system is comprised of actors and structures. Actors can be individuals or groups of people that share some common purpose or collective identity (firms, countries, organizations).

Why is social structure important? ›

Social structure guides our interactions with others through statuses and roles. Social structure defines our social interactions and suggests reality is socially constructed. Social structure is very important to the sociological analysis of society.

What are some of the characteristics of states in the international system? ›

The accepted criteria of statehood were laid down in the Montevideo Convention (1933), which provided that a state must possess a permanent population, a defined territory, a government, and the capacity to conduct international relations.

Who defined international society? ›

International society as defined by Headley Bull in his 1977 book The Anarchical Society: A Study of Order in World Politics, is when a group of states interacts with one another and are bound by a set of rules and norms (Bull in Dunne et al. 2013: 139).

What is international system in contemporary world? ›

methodologies of international relations studies

units of the international system, international-system analysis is concerned with the structure of the system, the interactions between its units, and the implications for peace and war, or cooperation and conflict, of the existence of different types of states.

What is the meaning of international community? ›

The international community is a vague phrase used in geopolitics and international relations to refer to a broad group of people and governments of the world. It does not literally refer to all nations or states in the world.

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