Faculty Scholarly Dissemination Grants


How Dominant Was (or IS) Realism? An Empirical Update and Assessment


Political Science Department


College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Date Range



Social and Behavioral Sciences


In this paper we update data on the theoretical diversity in the field of IR. In 2005 we published 'Re-Assessing the Power of Power Politics Thesis: Is Realism Still Dominant?' in International Studies Review. By coding articles in four leading IR journals, we traced the gradual decline of articles informed by realist theory from 1970 to 2000. From 1995 to 2000, liberalism superseded realism as the leading theory. Recently, Meliniak et. al. published findings as part of the TRIP survey that contradict our findings. In ISQ , they (2011:437) contend that there "is no evidence, moreover, that realism and its focus on power relations among states dominate, or since 1980 ever has dominated, the literature." This paper's first objective is to explore the tensions between Maliniak's findings in ISQ and our findings. The second objective is to update our data for the years 2001 through 2010. These efforts will shed more light on the question of theoretical pluralism and dominance, which is central to the intellectual history of IR.

Conference Name

Annual Meeting International Studies Association

Conference Location

San Francisco' CA

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