Levels Of Analysis In International Relations

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Running Head:   LEVELS OF ANALYSIS


















Levels of Analysis in International Relations

Jane E. Doe

University of West Florida





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Levels of Analysis in International Relations

One method for studying international relations utilizes three levels of analysis,   all of which are designed to give us a specific view of how world events come about.   The three levels, as defined by Kenneth Waltz (Genest, 1996) , are the system level, state level, and individual level.   On the system level we can attempt to analyze the reasons for particular interactions between countries.   On the state level we can examine how states regulate themselves and how they create foreign policy.   On the individual level we get a closer view of the impact of an individual’s own beliefs and interests on the state that he represents.   Because a radical decision by an individual or state can greatly impact the subsequent interactions within the system as a whole, using levels of analysis to evaluate international relations can be crucial to our understanding of how and why specific events have occurred.  
If we think of the three levels of analysis as a mobile, we can visualize the fact that a movement in one piece- or individual- strikes the next piece- or state- and reverberates throughout the entire mobile- or system.   Failure to distinguish between levels often causes us not to recognize the source that brought about the movement, or change, in the first place.   In History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides (c. 400 B.C.) utilizes the levels of analysis to demonstrate why and how the war between Athens and Sparta unraveled.   We will examine one example of this, found in Book One, beginning on page 91 of “The Pentecontaetia.”  
Here, we learn the story of Pausanias, a Spartan who was sent out as a supreme commander of the Hellenic forces during a time of alliance between Athens and Sparta,...

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