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Neorealist And Neo Marxist Approaches To Globalisation Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 2309 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Globalisation is the process of integration which is international and arises from the mixture of products, ideas, views and some other aspects of culture. Neo Realism and Neo Marxism are the different approaches that have different theories, rules and regulation which can be used by different geological countries to accept the different cultures and the technologies to achieve the globalisation. Neo Realism uses the concept of self-interest and that is the reason it is considered as realistic theory to different aspects while Neo Marxism uses the concepts of Marxism and also incorporates elements from other intellectual traditions like critical theory, psychoanalysis or Existentialism. Globalization process requires different approaches to be followed to get success in particular field. As all we know globalization requires the consideration of many aspects so that it could be accept globally, so the application and selection of the appropriate theory is much important. Globalization is the main factor these days in the success of any country, company, or organization as the global presence only tells about the popularity or the importance of that thing. There are different theories that can be applied like classical or neo classical realist theory, left critical theory, deconstructionist ethics theory, neo Marxism theory or post structuralism theory etc. The application of these theory can be done of anti globalism or alter globalism. We will here compare the neo realism and neo Marxism approaches that can be applied for globalisation and how they can impact the globalisation and which one is better. The comparison will lead to the understanding of the theories and their importance for the globalization.

Neo Realism Approach:

Basically Realism is considered as the view that different aspects of internationalization are derived from competitive self-interest. Realism is an international theory basically which is centred upon following four propositions.

1. First proposition considers the that no actor above states is capable which can regulate the interactions and states must get all the relations with other states in the environment at their own instead of control from someone else which means that the international system is anarchic.

2. Second proposition considers the states as most important actors.

3. This proposition considers all states as unitary and rational actors which tend to pursue their self-interest.

4. Last proposition considers that all states concern about the survival mainly.

In short we can say that realists believe in the self-centred and competitive humankind. Theorists like Thomas Hobbes consider the human nature to be egocentric and conflictual and exceptional in some special cases. These views are different from the liberalism approach that is used for international relations. Realists consider Sovereign states as the main actors in the international system and they afford special attention to large powers because they mainly impact the international stage (Gene Callahan, (2010) pp 872). International institutions, multinational corporations, non-governmental organizations, individuals and other actors like sub-state or trans-state are considered as less influential. Realists believe that all states can’t guide their actions by a universal principle. They believe that every state must be aware of different actions of the other states around it and a pragmatic approach should be used in case of any problem.

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Neo realism is same as classical realism but it focuses on anarchic structure of international system in spite of human nature. It considers that states are main actors due to the non existence of any political monopoly above sovereign. Main attention is given to the forces which are above or below the states using levels of analysis or structure-agency debate while state will be the main actors. This theory considers international system as a structure which acts on the state and individuals as they are below the level of the state who acts as agency on the state. Neo realism differs in the emphasis which it places on the permanence of conflict in spite of being affected from English School. It says that states should be constantly prepared for conflict using economic and military build-up so that state security can be ensured. Some of the prominent neo realists are Hans Morgenthau, Kenneth Waltz (Structural realism), Robert J. Art, Robert Jervis, Stephen Walt(Defensive realism), John Mearsheimer(Offensive realism), Robert Gilpin(Hegemonic theory).

The main focus of the realist approach to international politics is on the importance of power to establish relations between states. Realists believe in self-help they consider that states should rely on themselves to provide order and to resolve the issues. States should be capable enough to handle the situations and should not depend for any particular power.


There are different criticisms for the neo realistic theory like it has the problem of Indeterminacy, federalism and democratic peace. These all can be summarized as follows:

Problem of Indeterminacy:

Though the theory is very rigorous but still there are some fundamental drawbacks which present problems in generating different hypotheses and testing theory. The theory is very indeterminate because it focuses on different effects of the structure of international system on the behaviour of states and on international outcomes (Marianne Wikgren, (2005) pp 19). It says that structures have their effects indeterminately and indirectly. These all can also be found in balance of power theory also.

Democratic peace:

The theory of realism does not apply to the democratic states’ relations with each other because some studies found that such type of states don’t go for war. However, Realists and proponents of other schools have critiqued both this claim and the studies which appear to support it, claiming that its definitions of ‘war’ and ‘democracy’ must be tweaked in order to achieve the desired result.


Federalism comes from a theory which divides the final authority between different sub-units and a centre. In such type of cases, sovereignty is constitutionally split between at least two territorial levels and results in final authority at each level which can act independently of the others in some area. This gives the citizens the right to have political obligations to two authorities. The allocation of authority between the sub-unit and centre may vary. Typically the centre has powers to shape different policies like defence and foreign policy, but at the same time different sub-units may also have international roles. The sub-units are also allowed to participate in central decision-making process.

Neo Marxism Approach:

Neo-Marxism is used for different twentieth-century approaches which append or include Marxism and Marxist theory and incorporates different important elements from other intellectual traditions like critical theory, psychoanalysis or Existentialism. One good example of syncretism in neo Marxist theory is the contradictory of class location theory from Erik Olin Wright which incorporates critical criminology, Weberian sociology  and anarchism. Neo Marxists have tried to supplement the deficiencies which were perceived in orthodox Marxism (Alf Walle, (2001) pp 805) or dialectical materialism and that is the reason why many theorists and groups has designated the use of prefix neo. Most of the prominent neo-Marxists like Herbert Marcuse and other members of the Frankfurt School were sociologists and psychologists.

New left considers neo Marxism under its broader framework. In a sociological aspect, neo-Marxism is basically the addition of Max Weber’s broader understanding of social inequality like status and power to Marxist philosophy. Critical theory, French structural Marxism and analytical Marxism are different strains of neo-Marxism

Neo Marxism came in the existence to explain those questions which were unexplained in Karl Marx’s works. There are many different “branches” of Neo-Marxism which are usually not in agreement with each other and their defined theories. There are basically two theories of neo Marxism, which are as follows:

Neo-marxist theories of development:

Dependency and world system theories are connected to come up with the Neo-Marxist approach to development economics. In this approach “exploitation” is considered as external exploitation which was used to be considered as internal exploitation in orthodox Marxism.

Neo-marxian economics:

This approach stresses on the monopolistic capitalism in spite of competitive nature of capitalism. Kalecki andBaran and Sweezy are associated with this approach.

Neo-Marxism is the application of Marxist ideas to the global economic conditions which currently exists and considered as a school of economic thought. It was very common during the 1960s and 1970s as many neo-Marxist scholars showed that how capitalist policies can hinder the development and can increase the inequality between the Global North and South. So, neo-Marxists produced different modern world system and dependency theories in form of clear illustrations to show how neo-liberal capitalism has brought increased inequality to the global economy.

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Basically Neo Marxism was a relaxation of the economic determinism and positivism of classical Marxist theories. Its main focus was more on the society rather than on the system alone. It incorporated other sociological views which were developed after Marx so that a more holistic view of social class structures and dynamics can be provided and the target was to focus more on society. Different criticisms for the neo Marxism theory are as follows:

It has more concentration on economic relationship which is like going over to the limit as it considers the economic relationship as most important factor.

This theory is considered as economically deterministic due to the more emphasis on the economic relationship and it has ignored the other relationship like family, education. Friendship, religious etc which also give shape and determines the success.

As it has concentrated on the economic relationships and conflicts, it has overlooked the conflicts that can rise in other forms (non-economic) also. This theory has either overlooked on these factors or has a slight description like it argues that the male-female conflicts are not simply economic rather they are patriarchal.

It has under-emphasized the subjective interpretations of individuals when looking at the way in which people see and act in the social world (Thomas M. Jeannot, (1994) pp 91). A person’s subjective interpretation of their class, for example, might be quite different to their objective class position.

Many forms of Neo-Marxism have been criticised (usually by other Marxists) as being little more than a “left-wing” variety of Functionalism (“Left Functionalism” as Jock Young has termed it). In place of society existing for “the benefit of all”, Young argues that many Marxists simply substitute the idea that society exists for “benefit of a ruling class”).

Some forms of Neo-Marxism resemble little more than a giant “conspiracy theory”, whereby a Capitalist Ruling Class are able to manipulate other classes in society for their own ends / benefits.

Critics like Sir Karl Popper have claimed that Marxism is unscientific in its methodology. In particular, he argues that Marxism is not a theory that can be tested and possibly falsified, mainly because it sees the replacement of Capitalism by Communism as “historically inevitable”. In this respect, Popper classifies Marxism as a “faith”.

The Marxist perspective lends itself to always examining social relationships in terms of their conflictual basis (just as the Functionalist perspective tends to look at those same relationships in terms of their consensual basis). This emphasis might be misplaced.


As per the above discussion, both approaches have different implications for the globalization and have aim to satisfy the need of the states and regions for their success. On the one side neo realist theory tries to aim at individual on the other side neo Marxist theory tries to aim at the economies. Realist theory considers each individual responsible for their own tasks while neo Marxist theory talks in terms of economic stability and other factors (Kavous Ardalan, (2009) pp 525). The globalisation is the process which requires the integration of ideas, views and other factors that can help to get a better international system in the place. So while choosing the best theory for the globalisation, it is important to consider that the theory which is required should be more realistic and should focus on the growth and responsibility of all as a whole, not as an individual. So, neo realism is the theory which is realistic while neo Marxism is the theory which considers the economy as a whole. So I think a mixture of both can be better to be adopted for globalization process. But most preferable should be neo realism theory as it aims at the development of all and the responsibility of all individual state so that they can be economically strong at their own and can give rise to a good competition in the world scenario while keeping in the mind about the international relations.


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