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IR Levels of Analysis

International relations, or the relationships and interactions between different nations and ethnicities, is inherently complex, both in practice and as an academic discipline. Levels of Analysis are the building blocks that are faced by all students and academics when they seek to build an analysis. Without separating these, such as with the levels of analysis, it would be a difficult task to make enough sense of things to build, or utilize, a theory that would allow us to pose viable answers to research questions regarding IR.

Most of the scholars mention three level of analysis in IR but we will read about four level of analysis. Let's understand them one by one


Systematic level

  • The systematic level comprises the global system in its entirety and looks at issues like the distribution of political power, the economic system, global governance (international organizations, laws and norms) and the diffusion of technology

  • Comprehensive overview of interactions between actor.

  • Identification of patterns of interactions in the system that will enable us to offer generalized information/findings about the behavior of states.

  • It also considers how these factors create conditions that impose themselves structurally on the other levels.

State level

  • In this level analysis argue that the international system level tells only part of the story of international relations, but looking at the backgrounds of states, type of government, economic performance, geography, history and cultural values and can offer a more complete explanation.

  • A state-level analyst could point to the collapse of the USSR's economy in the 1980s as one of the factors leading to the end of the Cold War.

  • Higher possibility for generalizations through comparing states/actors

  • Analyze decision-making processes