SAGE Journal Articles


Click on the following links – please note these will open in a new window

PDF icon SJ-userguide.pdf

Article 1: Ikenberry, J. (January/April 2009). Liberalism in a Realist World: International Relations as an American Scholarly Tradition. International Studies 46(1-2). 203-219.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Describe the “great debate” that Ikenberry outlines in the article. What are the historical and intellectual contexts in which those debates took place?
  2. Create a timeline that shows the major statements or trends in the theoretical debates.
  3. What major conclusions does the author arrive at?


Article 2: Mearsheimer, J. & Walt, S. M. (September 2013). Leaving Theory Behind: Why Simplistic Hypothesis Testing Is Bad for International Relations. European Journal of International Relations 19(3). 427-457.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Explain the authors’ distinction between hypothesis testing and theory creation and refinement, and summarize the main reasons the authors advocate for the latter versus the former.
  2. According to the authors, what major problems does an emphasis on hypothesis testing pose for the field of international relations?
  3. How does their argument intersect with the discussion in the textbook regarding the utility of understanding major theories of international relations?


Article 3: Lang, A. et al. (September 2006) The Role(s) of Rule: Some Conceptual Clarifications. International Relations 20(3). 274-294.

Questions to Consider:

  1. Describe the different kinds of rules the authors discuss in the article. What types are there, what different purposes do they serve, and in what contexts?
  2. What conclusions do the authors reach?


Article 4: Lake, D. A. (September 2013). Theory is Dead, Long Live Theory: The End of the Great Debates and the Rise of Eclecticism in International Relations. European Journal of International Relations 19(3). 567-587.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does the author mean by methodologically pluralist, “mid-level theories,” and in what ways does he think they provide an antidote to “grand theory”? That is, what is better about mid-level theories, and what is problematic about grand theories?
  2. Summarize at least one example of “progressive” mid-level theories that the author discusses and describe its contribution to the scholarship. What impact did it make on how we think about a particular problem?
  3. What is the current debate between positivists and post-positivists about?
  4. How do the views expressed by this article’s author seem to differ from those expressed by Mearsheimer and Walt in the article above? What would a debate between them look like?


Article 5: Philp, M. (October 2010). What Is To Be Done? Political Theory and Political Realism. European Journal of Political Theory. 9(4). 466-484.

Questions to Consider:

  1. The author of this article uses the term “realism” differently than the textbook. What does Philp mean by “political realism,” and what does that have to do with the discussion in the textbook of the role of judgment? 
  2. What does this article have to say about the role of political ethics and morals (“political virtue”)? What part should political virtue play in the evaluation of political conduct?


See also:

Article: Schmidt, B.C. (June 2005) Competing Realist Conceptions of Power. Millennium 33(3). 523-549.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What are the differences between the three different strands of realist theory?
  2. Summarize what is each strands concept of power.