Distinguishing Realism & Neo-Realism

Realism vs Neo-Realism

Realism and Neo-realism are two distinct schools of thought that differ in their outlook on international relations, specifically in how they approach the problem of identifying the various causes of conflicts. Despite having different approaches, there are some key similarities between the two, such as both being realistic in explaining the world as it is, viewing domestic politics as separate from foreign policy, defining states as rational actors rather than agents of morality, and asserting that the international system essentially remains the same.

What is Realism?

Realism places more importance on the individualistic aspect of social life and unchanging human nature, resulting in political situations being deemed self-interested in character. The focus of realism is on analyzing the roots of conflict in international relations and implementing strategies to approach such conflicts. In realist politics, the political sphere is autonomous, and realists believe in designing proper definitions of economy and culture. Realism is hierarchical in character and does not believe in the supremacy of central authority, thus rejecting the notion of anarchy. Power is a crucial aspect of realism, with the power of a state being considered based on factors such as its military power.

What is Neo-Realism?

Neo-realism, in contrast, does not pay much attention to the individualistic aspect of social life. Instead, neo-realists argue that conflict in international relations can be solved and explained more by the state of anarchy. Neo-realist politics is not considered an autonomous sphere, and neo-realists do not believe in defining economy and culture. Neo-realism is anarchical in character, as opposed to the hierarchical nature of realism. Neo-realism takes a different approach to explain the nature of conflict in international relations, considering that interstate conflict is rooted in the absence of central authority. While neo-realists also believe in defining strategies to approach conflict in international relations, their approach is more inclined towards security.

Key Takeaways

  • Realism focuses on human nature and individualistic aspects of social life, while neo-realism focuses on the structure of the system and the state of anarchy.
  • Realism is interested in power, while neo-realism is interested in security.
  • Realism believes in implementing strategies to approach conflict, whereas neo-realism is more focused on security when defining strategies to approach conflict.
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard
Gil Tillard is an accomplished writer with expertise in creating engaging articles and content across various platforms. His dedication to research and crafting high-quality content has led to over 5 years of professional writing and editing experience. In his personal life, Gil enjoys connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. His curiosity and eagerness to learn from others fuel his passion for communication. He believes that engaging with strangers can be both enlightening and enjoyable, making it easier to strike up conversations and expand one's horizons.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles