International Relations and Political Economy

IR Working Paper No. 4

Author/s (editor/s):

Neil Renwick

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

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IR Working Paper No. 4

Neil Renwick, ‘International Relations and Political Economy’, IR Working Paper No. 4, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, 1985.

Political economy, as an analytical approach to the study of International Relations that emphasises the’ intimate, dialectical interaction of political and economic forces’, is experiencing a strong revival of interest among scholars of the discipline. This renewed interest can be attributed to a response by observers to perceived changes in the international environment and to a sense of inadequacy with established methods for the description, explanation and prediction of these changes and their consequences. However, although there is general agreement among these observed about the need for a new theoretical approach based upon a political economy orientation, consensus is absent with respect to the objectives and scope of such an approach, the central characteristics or analytical tools of a political economy methodology, and the position of such an approach in the overall body of theory of International Relations. This essay seeks to address these areas of debate and suggest ways in which the development of a viable political economy approach to International Relations can be advanced.

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