Realism and Neo-Realism in International Relations

Subject: Politics & Government
Pages: 3
Words: 647
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Bachelor


Realism and neo-realism originated from war in the 5th Century BC. Hans made his first contribution to the concepts in 1948. Kenneth Waltz further made his contributions to the concepts in 1979 and he did this by first describing the concepts separately.


Realism is a term that has been used to describe the present state of the world without reference to the past or the future. It is a concept that is deeply rooted in pessimism rather than optimism in regard to power. As for realism, the indicators of power include the ability to have a balanced power and the security of the power.


Neo-realism is a concept that attributes the way things are in the world not only to the nature of human beings but also to other agents as well such as stressors and motivators. According to neo-realist thinkers, the state is non centric and has informal authority that values its own interests. The state does not distinguish between the most powerful from the least powerful members in a given society. This is a positive attribute of neo-realism.

Differences Between Realism and Neo-Realism

The origin of international conflicts

Realists believe that international conflicts originated from the nature of human beings. Realism postulates that human beings are erroneous in nature and international conflicts are as a result of their deliberate actions.

The nature of the state

Realism believes that the state is always superior. The present state of the world is determined by the state because it is the major and final decision maker.

Pessimism versus optimism

Realism is pessimistic in its views and ideologies. It emphasizes on conflicts in the political arena and even presents human nature as imperfect (Robert and Robert 26).Neo-realism is optimistic in its views and ideologies.

Unitary versus pluralism

Realism views people in the society as pluralists in that certain members of the society possess more power than others. Neo-realism views people in the society as unitary with all the members of the society being liable for the decisions being made.

The study of international politics

Realists are very subjective with regard to the study of international politics. Neo-realism is very objective and scientific in regard to the study of international politics.


Both ideologies value power despite its different dimensions. They believe that the state is a major decision agent and the determinant factor in the political domain. Both ideologies originated from concepts in war during the 5th century BC. Both were also documented in the academic field for the first time in 1979 by Kenneth Waltz.


The discussion shows that realism and neo-realism are quite different ideologies and therefore one should not be used to mean the other.

Prospects of International Cooperation

There is a high probability that international cooperation may enhance the external business environment which constitutes the political, environmental, social, economic, technological, and legal factors.

Political prospects

International cooperation is likely to enhance a peaceful political arena in a given state. When political norms are designed cooperatively with the participation of all the members concerned, there is a high tendency of quality politics in the states.

Environmental prospects

International cooperation enhances preservation and conservation of the natural environment. When members of a state are cooperative, there is a tendency for them to be conscious of their environment and that of their neighbors.

Social prospects

International cooperation enhances the sharing of resources and ideas among different members of the state. It increases social ties among the members of the state due to cooperation. It also enhances virtues like respect, love, honesty, and harmony.

Technological prospects

International cooperation enhances the sharing of technological ideologies, competencies, and equipments. This enables states to be technologically oriented.

Legal prospects

International cooperation enhances adherence to the laws of a country.


The prospects enhance the general development of states and international cohesion rather than disintegration of states.

Works Cited

Robert, Art and Robert, Jervis. International Politics: Enduring concepts and contemporary issues tenth edition, Boston, USA: Longman, 2011.Print.