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International Political Economy in Context

International Political Economy in Context
Individual Choices, Global Effects

August 2012 | 624 pages | CQ Press
Although many international political economy texts offer good descriptions of what events have occurred in global economic and political relations, they make little attempt to develop explicit theoretical frameworks explaining why. Andrew Sobel's International Political Economy in Context: Individual Choices, Global Effects takes a micro approach to international political economy that considers the fact that individuals—not nations—make choices.

Grounding policy choices in the competitive environs of domestic politics and decision-making processes, Sobel illustrates how policymakers choose among alternatives, settling on those that are most in sync with their self-interest.

The book is structured to build students' skills for a sophisticated understanding of how and why events unfold in the international political economy. Students become versed in the primary assumptions and structural/macro conditions of economic and political geography in the global arena. An examination of micro-level conditions and mechanisms introduces the factors that influence political and economic outcomes. Students are then able to use those primary assumptions and micro-level arrangements to make sense of past and present changes in the global political economy.

Those familiar with Sobel's first volume, Political Economy and Global Affairs, will easily find their way through this new book. Anyone looking for a compelling, accessible, and fully integrated rational choice perspective on international political economy will find it here.

Figures, Tables, and Maps
1. Introduction: Political Economy, Rationality, and Social Science 1
2. Structure, Nation-States, Power, and Order in an International Context
3. Economic Liberalism and Market Exchange in the Global Arena
4. The Micro Approach to Political and Economic Markets in Theory and Practice
5. The Dilemma of Collective Action: Who Organizes, Who Does Not, and Why
6. The Role of Hegemonic Leadership and Its Micro Foundations
7. Interest Groups and International Economic Foundations of Political Cleavage
8. The Role of Institutions in Political and Economic Market Failures
9. Around the World in Eighty Days: A Stage of Modern Globalization
10. The World between the Wars: A Breakdown in Globalization
11. The Bretton Woods System: The Rebuilding of Globalization
12. The World Post–Bretton Woods: Globalization Advances
13.Détente and the End of the Cold War: Globalization during Transition
14. Into the Future: Political and Economic Market Failures and Threats to Globalization
Photo Credits
About the Author

“Instead of covering IPE from broad realist, liberal, critical, or whatever perspectives, Sobel takes one, very much up-to-date and non-paradigmatic rational choice perspective and uses it throughout the book. This really is the way it should be done!”

Tobias Hofmann
College of William & Mary

“Most other books leave the impression that political economy began in the 1980s, or are a morass of acronyms that most students will soon forget. International Political Economy in Context: Individual Choices, Global Effects is the one book that really renders effective treatments of the Big Ideas that shaped the political economy of the world over the past two centuries. Without that context one cannot possibly hope to understand what is happening today.”

Mike Jasinski
University of Wisconsin, Osh Kosh

International Political Economy in Context’s strengths are its detailed, clear exposition. I read with delight the rather sophisticated analysis of difficult concepts like the balance of payments and the Bretton Woods meetings.”

James Morrison
Middlebury College

Too special for the class.

Dr Stefan Zimmermann
Agriculture, Georg-August-University Göttingen
July 3, 2019

As a scholar working on the IPE from a rather structural perspective, I have developed an overall positive opinion about this, rather agentic, perspective on the IPE. I will certainly use it and advice it to my students for this upcoming semester. It is a successful endeavor as it adequately strikes a balance between simplicity and depth. I am planning to use certain chapters of it, thereby making them essential reading(s), in order to provide an alternative, rather agential, source of the course of global political economy

Professor Oğuz Dilek
International Relations, Zirve University
February 2, 2015

For my methods course in international relations, this book has been classified as a supplemental reading. This is due to my course's focus on how to use IR data to answer IR and IPE research questions. Hence, the course is not theoretical, but Sobel's book is a nice accompanying guide book that clearly directs students towards the important and interesting questions in IPE research. It is easily accessible and provides an encompassing tour through various IPE topics, such as trade, private finance, collective action, interest groups, and international institutions. The stengths of this book are twofold: first, its devotion to micro-level approaches is exceptional. The book makes a nice contribution in underscoring how important disaggregation is, and that often domestic and international dynamics need to be analyzed in parallel to understand IPE pheonomena. Clearly, this provides students who most of the time search for international solutions to international problems with a novel insight. Second, the book does a nice job in providing historic context. This helps the reader, especially intermediate and advanced BA students, to put many of the IPE research questions that are discussed in the current literature into perspective. In reviewing the context of this strand of research, the book also sets itself apart from other IPE textbooks that focus only on analytical concepts, but give the historical foundations a less careful treatment. Overall, I can recommend this book to anyone interested in getting a good and comprehensive overview of IPE topics.

Mr Patrick Bayer
Department of Political Science, University of Mannheim
March 11, 2013
Key features
  • Callout glossary boxes highlight and define key terms where they appear in the text to aid in student study.
  • Exercises at the end of each chapter encourage students to apply the concepts they've just read about.
  • End of chapter key concepts lists summarize the main theoretical takeaways.
  • A suggested reading list for each chapter provides rich sources for further study.
  • Valuable figures and tables help students grasp important concepts and aid in study.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapters 1 and 6

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