15.3.1 Levels of Analysis

John Wright

The levels of analysis issue in international relations theory hypothesises that power is exercised at three basic levels: the individual (or sub-state, or group) level, the state level, and the international level. At the sub-state level of analysis, political actors can be individuals exercising their own interests, or they can be an aggregate of people via an institutional arrangement or mechanism: for example, as political leaders, as voters, as municipalities, as provinces, or as interest groups. At the state level of analysis, we look at states as unitary actors exercising state self-interests. At the international – or systemic level – we talk of the interaction between states and the structure of the system as a whole.


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