Complex Systems Theories and Eclectic Approach in Analysing and Theorising the Contemporary International Security Complex

Complex Systems Theories and Eclectic Approach in Analysing and Theorising the Contemporary International Security Complex

Luis Tomé (University Autónoma of Lisbon, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0148-0.ch002
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Abstract

This chapter has a dual purpose: first, it is intended to demonstrate the need and usefulness of Complex systems theories and, in this context, what we call an “Eclectic Approach” for analysing and theorising about International Relations and security; second, it aims to characterise the contemporary international security system. We also develop two basic arguments: that the reality is too complex, heterogeneous and varied to fit into theories that purport to interpret exclusively in the light of its previous cognitive structures; and that the contemporary international security system is a complex of international security systems – competitive, cooperative, collective, and security communities.
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Introduction

The conceptualisation of “security” and the “international security system” are two of the most discussed and controversial issues in the entire theoretical area of International Relations. One of the few consensual aspects of these discussions is the “dynamic” and “complex” character of security and the international security system. It is surprising, therefore, that to theorise about these realities, many insist on not using or even rejecting more pluralist and flexible approaches, opting instead for inflexible paradigms and restricted in their assumptions, variables and propositions. However, the evident complexity of international relations and security, as well as the shortcomings of conventional and traditionally prominent theories, require alternative proposals.

This chapter has a dual purpose: first, it is intended to demonstrate the need and usefulness of Complex systems theories and, in this context, what we call an “Eclectic Approach” for analysing and theorising about International Relations and security; second, it aims to characterise the current international security system, which proves to be a complex of security systems.

These objectives are developed on the basis of two fundamental arguments. We consider that reality is too complex, heterogeneous and varied to fit into theories that purport to interpret exclusively in the light of its previous abstractions, built on certain foundational assumptions and adapted to all situations regardless of specific circumstances and evolutions. It is our argument that none of the conventional theories, including prominent paradigms such as Realism, Liberalism and Constructivism, provide analytical and explanatory frameworks that meet all the complexities of international politics and security. In light of developments and changes in the field of security and the international system, we argument that the contemporary international security system is a complex of international security systems.

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