Defensive and Offensive Realism - Exploring the limits of neorealism

Michael Christian Borchgrevink Lund & Mathias Michael Herbst-Jensen

Studenteropgave: Fagmodulprojekt


This project aims to setup a comparing and contrasting look into international relations theory (IRT), specifically realism. Realism is one of the major pillars of IRT; and is a theory that long has been regarded as the predominant school of thought in International Relations (IR). Our project has its theoretical impetus in a branch of realism called neorealism. Neorealism as first theorized by Kenneth Waltz in Theory of International Politics (1979), which also is known as defensive realism, is weighed against the divergent theory of offensive realism, theorized by John J. Mearsheimer in The Tragedy of Great Power Politics (2001). This project takes a critical approach to the two strands of neorealism, and compares, contrasts and analyses the different versions in the context of a contemporary case study on US-China relations and the rise of China. We seek to explore and present the differences and similarities of the two theories in a greater context of how to understand the central points of realism such as power, balance of power & polarity. We conclude that while neorealism has its merits and can explain International Relations in detail within certain areas; it could benefits from other theoretical perspectives. We also conclude in our look into further research, that constructivist and liberal schools of thought in IR have something to add to the discussion, and are able to shine the light on other perspectives of US-China relations, beyond what realism allows us to comprehend.

UddannelserInternationale Studier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Bachelor
Udgivelsesdato24 maj 2016
Antal sider39
VejledereMichelle Pace