The First Assignment
Which of the three major theoretical perspectives on International Political Economy (IPE) – i.e. liberalism, mercantilism, and structuralism – best explains the emergence, development and consequences of the major IPE issues in the world today, and why?
Choose one of Susan Strange’s four ‘structures’ that support the International Political Economy, and explain its origins. Outline the main features, and identify its most important political, economic and social actors. Finally, discuss the benefits the structure provided to those who founded it, and to those who manage it today.
In Part 1 you should provide a brief description and critical assessment of the three major theoretical perspectives on IPE that have been discussed in class: ‘liberalism’ (related to ‘neoliberalism’ and ‘Keynesianism’), ‘mercantilism’ and ‘structuralism’ (also known as a ‘Marxist’ perspective). How do they differ from or complement each other? Which perspective is most convincing in explaining the recent developments in IPE, such as the global financial crisis, the problems of the European monetary union, the Syrian crisis, and the rise of emerging powers in world politics, and for what reasons? It is recommended that you read Part One of Balaam and Dillman (2011), as well as other academic sources, before attempting this part of the essay.
In Part 2 you should examine one of the four relationships or ‘structures’ proposed by Susan Strange, a leading IPE thinker, that tie together nation-states and other actors, and link national and global markets. These structures are:
The Production and Trade structure
The International Monetary and Finance structure
The Global Security structure, and
The Knowledge and Technology structure
Which actors, and what sources of power, did they use to create the structure, and how has it been managed ever since? View your selected IPE structure as a network of arrangements, agreements, institutions and other relationships, and discuss how they connect the people of the world and shape the behaviour of states and markets. Provide answers to the simple question posed by Strange: ‘Who benefits?’ This second part of the essay should be informed by the point of view you adopted in the first part. For this part of the essay, you should read Part Two of Balaam and Dillman (2011), as well as other academic sources.
The Second Assignment
The second assignment, due on 28 April 2014, similarly requires you to write an essay of around 2,000 words. You are given a choice of four essay titles, at least one of is relevant to your selected pathway. Answer one of the following:
1. Explain what is right and what is wrong with the following statement: ‘Most transnational corporations (TNCs) invest in less-developed countries primarily because of the low wages that they can pay there.’
2. Explain why illicit cross-border flows – such as the smuggling of drugs, tobacco, people, weapons, toxic waste, and dirty money – are emerging as an increasing source of either conflict or cooperation between states or international institutions. As part of your answer, critically assess some of the unintended consequences of efforts to regulate illicit cross-border flows.
3. Liberals assert that: ‘Despite a growing backlash, the boom in migration has been mostly good for both sending and recipient countries’ (The Economist, 3 January 2008). Explain why they believe the benefits of migration outweigh the potential costs.
Identify at least two countries, or regional groups (such as the EU), to which Liberals would commonly apply the above assertion. Finally, discuss how (a) mercantilists and (b) structuralists explain the recent immigration pattern in each of your selected countries / regional groups, and its potential impact on the national economy?
4. Discuss the issue of climate change in terms its potential solutions, taking into account the conflict between economic growth and the goal of sustainable development.
The second essay requires that you apply the insights that you have gained throughout the module to a discussion of one of the four most pressing global issues that confront decision makers today: the dominance of transnational corporations, the illicit global economy, the problems associated with unauthorised migration, and the degradation of the natural environment. In the discussion of your chosen global issue, include the following: an outline of the complex interactions between individuals, markets, governments and international institutions in respect of this issue; identification of the key causes of your chosen issue, which might include technological change, greed, survival motives, the process of globalisation, etc; an evaluation of the policies that already exist at international level to deal with these issues; and an explanation of the difficulties in formulating a global strategy to address the issue. Finally, do you feel that international institutions (such as the UN) could do more to find solutions? Why, or why not? For this assignment, you should read Part Five of Balaam and Dillman (2011), as well as other academic sources.
For some, the above essay topics may prove challenging. If you find that is the case for you, I strongly encourage you to ask me for help.