Last 25 years, mainstream studies in International Relations have disaggregated global phenomena into independent sets. Scientists study isolated groups by analytical methods that fail to capture interdependent social realities. They encapsulate few agents within interactive boxes and scrutinise any actor at any level. These equilibrium-based models leave constitutive social processes aside and clearly negate historical system changes.

This presentation seeks to answer why complexity represents an opportunity to explain and understand change in the international system. To begin with, it compares meanings of change in International Relations theory. Secondly, it assesses why analytical, linear, and equilibrium models-as micro foundational frameworks-are just able to evaluate stability inside fixed environments. Finally, it examines ontological, epistemological, and methodological questions raised by complexity for explaining and understanding changes in the international system.

Complex systems makes sense to the changing conditions of an increasingly interconnected world. It recognises interrelations between micro and macro levels, self-organising and constitutive social processes.


Julio César Orihuela International Relations, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).

Young Researchers e-session

Photos by : Derek K. Miller