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date: 21 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The state is central to the study of international relations and will remain so into the foreseeable future. State policy is the most common object of analysis. States decide to go to war. They erect trade barriers. They choose whether and at what level to establish environmental standards. States enter international agreements, or not, and choose whether to abide by their provisions, or not. International relations as a discipline is chiefly concerned with what states do on the world stage and, in turn, how their actions affect other states. This article first reviews the rationales behind state-centric theories of international relations. The second section examines criticisms and probes the limits of state-centric theories. The third section identifies three promising areas of research within state-centric theory: state structure, unit heterogeneity, and international hierarchy.

Keywords: state policy, international relations theory, state-centric theory, state structure, unit heterogeneity, international hierarchy

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