Power is defined as an individual’s dominating the mind and conduct of other people and the capability to persuade them to act in a particular manner. Power is also regarded in military use as the threat of employing coercion or the real practice of force in battles. However, it has different perspectives with regard to different economic theory, which is further explained below.

Realism views the world as it is in real, instead of perceiving it in the way it should be. Realists regard countries as the chief players in international relations. Extra emphasis is given to powerful states as they exercise a dominant influence on international Relations (pp. 17-18, Mearsheimer, 2001). As per the realist perspective, the way nations behave is largely governed by the material framework of international affairs. Thus, foreign policies and the conduct between two states are governed by the persistent conflict of power between them. International relations as per a realist is actually power politics (Waltz, 1959). Realist attitude stresses the continuous sequence of power politics as demonstrated by repeated wars, competitions, and clashes. Power is the principal theme of realist perspectives as it is important to comprehend the two key issues of international relations. The first issue deals with the state liable to win a conflict. The other one relates to the factor that dominates the international politics. Finally, Realists maintain that the distribution of power or capabilities largely determines international outcomes (pp. xiv-xv, Frankel, 1996).

Neorealism, also known as structural realism contrasts to the views of classic realists. Neo-realism regards the centrality of structural checks, as the factor that is liable for ascertaining the conduct of states in the international circuit. Structural realism emphasizes power as the key model in realist theories of international relations. It states that the international system is an anarchy wherein every nation tries to optimize its power compared to the rest for its existence. Neo-realist advocate Herz has put forth that anarchy guarantees the significance of the conflict for power even in situations where there is a lack of aggression and even in the absence of violence or dominance. This is so because the nations need to persistently chase power to safeguard their sovereignty in a scenario where war looms in the context of international politics (pp. 10, Herz, 1976). Neo-realists are of the view that states should endeavor for an "appropriate amount of power" in the international arena to ensure their survival which is of utmost importance in an unstable environment where there is a trust deficit and disharmony amongst states.

Classical liberalism is a theory for politics that signifies the most central element individual liberty. For Classical liberalists maximizing individual liberty is the ultimate goal and to achieve this they resort to limiting the practice of power and intimidation. Liberal structures imply a restriction on the execution of power by any particular government administrator as well as the entire nation. While on the one hand, these constraints shield citizens from dictatorship, on the other hand, they safeguard the state from erratic and impulsive decisions. One of the core insights of liberalism is that power indiscriminately exercised would not only impact an individual’s liberty but would also negatively affect the rule of law (Ikenberry, 2009). Curtailing arbitrary powers ensures con?dence and goodwill that the law would be fair and hence enables the state to obtain all-round co-operations without having to use force. Moreover, curtailing the scope of state power enhances the probability of it being used effectively and encourages society to create wealth, knowledge, and such resources that would benefit the state during the crisis period. This is the essence and virtue of constitutional liberalism. The significant growth of liberal states towards becoming the most influential in the world is an indicator of how well this theory works in practice.

Neoliberalism is a political thought that gives prior significance to distinct liberty and the right to private property for every individual.  As per this theory, the greatest overall good of people is only possible by setting free the people’s business aspirations and expertise inside an established structure distinguished by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. pp. 2, Harvey, 2005). Thus, the function of government is to protect its citizens, particularly by providing and sustaining an established structure that is suitable for such practices. Neo liberalist explains the concept of power, by describing that nations have come together culturally and economically by the phenomenon of cooperation. For them, the markets work the best when they are based upon a self-monitoring mechanism. They root for the demolishment of the government’s powers. In other words, the power in neo-liberalism is granted to the individual liberty, which is achieved by a self-monitoring market.

Marxism, as coined by Karl Marx, has an attitude towards power that correlates to class supremacy in capitalist economies. Marxists associate power with the class structure with regard to fiscal policy, political scenario, and philosophy. Marxism regards the state as a crucial factor for prevailing in a society conducive to monetary class domination. Marxists are also concerned about the reason for the controlled class’s acceptance or ignorance of their oppression. Thus, they tend to consider power as indicators of a particular approach or pattern for class supremacy instead of social occurrence which lacks its foundation in the social arrangement. Marxists are primarily concerned about the contributing association between the act of social power and the reproduction and/or alteration of class supremacy. Further, Marxists view the practices of social power are associated with class supremacy and are fundamentally weak and short-lived, and a persistent struggle is required to ensure the supremacy of certain classes, in order to surpass conflict and establish class power (Jessop, 2017). Thus, Marxists confer class power in the social context with regards to having dominion over the government or the possession of intellectual mind and emotions.

In spite of feminist philosophers adopting various viewpoints and approaches to apprehending international relations, they all concur that women are prominently missing, ignored, or omitted from international politics. Traditional theories emphasize international relations being interpreted solely along the lines of the masculine concept of state, sovereignty, war, and power. Feminine concepts, largely in the domestic domain, are considered irrelevant. Traditional theories consider power as fundamental in the study as well as the practice of international relations. Feminists oppose the traditional theories that theorize power only in the context of power over others. Traditional theorists emphasize power to be the most significant in the study of international relations. Enloe puts forth two concerns regarding the state-centric concept of power. The first concern regards that power is only present within a relationship. Thus, eliminating countless elements of power results in overstating the simplicity of the whole political scenario. To elaborate, by only relating to what’s happening at the state level, theorists tend to ignore several other areas where power lies in international relations and thus are likely to err in their analysis regarding the cause and effect. Further, Enloe opines that another result of this assumption is that restrictions are nominal. The submissive people are silent, and the opportunities are never accorded to them. Thus, numerous conservative theorists of international relations are taken by surprise (E-International Relations, 2013). This highlights an old issue concerning traditional theories not being able to account for major changes in international relations primarily due to their sole focus on the concept of the power of the state.




Frankel, B. (1996). Realism: Restatements and Renewal. 1st ed. London: Frank Cass & Company Ltd.

Harvey, D. (2005). A brief history of neoliberalism. 1st ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Herz, J. (1976). The nation-state and the crisis of world politics. 1st ed. London: Longman Publishing Group.

Ikenberry, G. (2009). Liberalism in a Realist World: International Relations as an American Scholarly Tradition. INTERNATIONAL STUDIES, 46(1&2), pp.203–219.

Jessop, B. (2017). Marxist Approaches to Power. [online] Bob Jessop.

Mearsheimer, J. (2001). The tragedy of Great Power politics. 1st ed. New York, p.Norton.

E-International Relations. (2013). The Feminist Perspectives on Power. [online]

Waltz, K. (1959). Man, the state and war: a theoretical analysis. 1st ed. New York: Columbia university press.



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