Non-Western International Relations Theory: Myth or Reality?


In recent years, Russian and foreign literature increasingly raises the question on national theories of international relations. A special interest is manifested towards non-Western theories of international relations. The article analyzes the reasons for such interest. It is noted that the main motive for scholars to search for national schools is the transformation of the political organization of the world that emerged in the West and was developing largely on the Western model. This transformation encompasses three levels of political organization of the modern world: the Westphalian system, the system of international (interstate) relations and the political systems of a state. Three levels of political organization of the world changing at the same time today reinforce each other and generate synergies. With such a large-scale transformation, when all three levels are “moving”, the world is facing for the first time, although the change of the second and especially the third levels were before. As far as the system of political organization of the world undergoes major changes, IR theories, which appeared in the West, are in crisis. Researchers’ attention to non-Western, primarily Asian TMO to find answers due to the following reasons: 1) the rapid economic growth of the region; 2) the development of scientific research in Asia; 3) the crisis of the Western model of political organization in the world that encourages the search for solutions in other civilizational structures. The article substantiates the necessity and possibility of “project activities” for reforming the political organization of the world and include practices that exist in different regions of the world. In order to implement such activities, the work of specialists from different brunches of social sciences is required.

Marina Mikhailovna Lebedeva
<p>MGIMO University of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation</p>

Moscow, Russia

  • Acharya, A. (2016b). Advancing Global IR: Challenges, Contentions, and Contributions. International Studies Review, 18, 4—15.
  • Acharya, A. (2011). Dialogue and Discovery: in Search of International Relations Theories beyond the West. Journal of International Studies, 39 (3), 619—637.
  • Acharya, A. (2016a). Rethinking Demand, Purpose and Progress in Global Governance: An Introduction. In: Why Govern? Rethinking Demand, Purpose and Progress in Global Governance. Ed. by A. Acharya. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Alekseeva, T. A., Mineev, A. P., & Loshkarev, I. D. (2016a). “Land of Confusion”: Quantum Physics in IR Theory? Vestnik of MGIMO—University, 3, 7—16. (in Russ.).
  • Alekseeva, T. A., Mineev, A. P., Fenenko, A. V., Loshkarev, I. D., & Anan'ev, B. I. (2016b). Constructivism Goes Quantum: The Approach Reform. Vestnik of MGIMO—University, 6, 7—13. (in Russ.).
  • Avant, D. D., Finnemore, M., & Sell, S. (2010). Who Governs the Globe? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Bakhtin, M. (1972). Problems of Dostoevsky's poetics. Moscow: Khudozhestvennaya literatura. (in Russ.).
  • Behera, N. G. (2016). Knowledge Production. International Studies Review, 1, 1—3.
  • Chugrov, S. V. (2016). Is there a non-Western political science? (“Political theory” T. Inoguchi). Polis. Political Studies, 4, 182—191. (in Russ.). doi: 10.17976/jpps/2016.04.14.
  • Cox, R. (1996). Social Forces, States and World Order beyond International Relations Theory. In: Approaches to World Order. Ed. by R. Cox and T. Sinclair. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Degterev, D. A. (2015). Quantitative Methods in International Studies in Russia and Abroad. International Trends, 13 (2), 35—54. (in Russ.). doi: 10.17994/IT.2015.
  • Holsti, K. J. (1995). International Politics: A Framework for Analysis. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Huntington, S. (1991). The Third Wave. Democratization in the Late Twentieth Century. Norman. London: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Keohane, R. O. & Nye, J. S. (1971). Transnational Relations and World Politics: An Introduction. International Organization, 25 (3), 329—349. URL:
  • Kharkevich, M. V. (2010). The State in Contemporary World Politics. Vestnik of MGIMO—University, 6, 160—166. (in Russ.).
  • Khudaikulova, A. V. (2016). Security Theories of Third World. Vestnik RUDN. International Relations, 16 (3), 412—423. (in Russ.).
  • Lebedeva, M. (2004). International Relations Studies in the USSR/Russia: Is there a Russian National School of IR Studies. Global Society, 18 (3), 263—278.
  • Lebedeva, M. M. (2016). System of Political Organization of the World: ‘Perfect Storm’. Vestnik of MGIMO—University, 2, 125—133. URL: (in Russ.).
  • Lebedeva, M. M. (2012). Modern trends of world development: a new quality of the world. Metamorfozy mirovoi politiki. Ed. by M. M. Lebedeva. Moscow: MGIMO (U), pp. 9—32. (in Russ.).
  • Lebedeva, M. M. (2008). Such different states. In: “Privatizatsiya” mirovoi politiki: lokal'nye deistviya — global'nye rezul'taty. Ed. by M. M. Lebedeva. Moscow: Golden Bi, pp. 91—99. (in Russ.).
  • Lebedeva, M. M., Kharkevich, M. V., Zinov'eva, E. S. & Koposova, E. N. (2016). State Archaization: the Role of Information Technologies. Polis. Political Studies, 6, 22—36. (in Russ.). doi: 10.17976/jpps/2016.06.03.
  • Non-Western International Relations Theory: Perspectives On and Beyond Asia. (2010). Ed. by A. Acharya and B. Buzan. New York: Routledge.
  • Poggi, G. (2007). States and State Systems: Democratic, Westphalian or Both? Review of International Studies, 33, 577—595.
  • Porter, T. (2001). Can There Still Be National Perspectives on International Relations? In: International Relations — Still an American Social Science: Towards Diversity in International Thought. Ed. by R. M. A. Crawford and D. S. L. Jarvis. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.
  • Raymond, G. A. & Kegley, Ch. W. (2001). Exorcising the Ghost of Westphalia. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
  • Tsygankov, A. P. (2014). The Russian theory of international relations: what it should be. Sravnitel'naya politika, 2, 65—81. (in Russ.).
  • Tsygankov, P. A. (1996). International Relations. Moscow: Novaya shkola. (in Russ.).
  • Vygotskii, L. S. (1982). Thinking and speaking. Coll. Moscow: Pedagogika, Vol. 2. (in Russ.).
  • Wendt, A. E. (2015). Quantum Mind and Social Science. Unifying Physical and Social Ontology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Abstract - 25

PDF (Russian) - 33

Copyright (c) 2017 Lebedeva M.M.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.