How Much Can We Rely on Institutional Theories? Yun Simpson

Those in the field of international relations hear buzz words like realism, liberalism, institutions etc. We often study, research, and argue in order to match certain relations between states with these buzz words, but as time moves forward and relations between states change, we continue to find it harder and harder. As globalization continues to grow and become more inter-webbed, we can become stuck rather than looking at the intricate complications as a whole, and being okay with not being able to match a state with a specific term or institution, so we can move forward and continue these relations in a positive manner.

Mearsheimer goes into detail the woes of the institutions and theories that seem to leave out important relations. For example, he brings up the gaps that the liberal institutionalism theory can have especially when it comes to “mixed interests”. With globalization growing so rapidly, we can see relationships among states with these “mixed interest”.

Schroeder and Banks bring up the point that powers such as India, China, and Brazil have been left out in discussions due to institutions such as the G-20. This is an example of how relations have drastically changed when these institutions were started and are affecting the way relationships work.

While institutions and theories that we study can sometimes be perfectly applied and are good for a basis on situations, by focusing on these institutions, states often lose sight of the situation at hand while we attempt to put these situations into a box. Schroeder and Banks do a great job of revealing the issue this holds with their article. While these institutions serve an important purpose, it is important that we remember to keep these institutions in the back of our mind but look at the present situation with a new lens. Without doing this we cannot move forward as a globalized world and will continue to run into issues like great powers having their voices silenced because they do not fit into an institution perfectly. It is important to widen the horizon of possibilities as globalization will only grow and the problems of not being able to clearly define a situation into an institution will continue to grow


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