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International Political Economy Dissertation Topics

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Published: 17th Aug 2021 in Dissertation Topic

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We have provided the selection of example international political economy dissertation topics below to help and inspire you.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 1:

The work of Susan Strange – A commentary

To many Susan Strange is the academic mother of international political economy. It was strange who argued that there are four key channels that constitute power - security, production, finance, and knowledge, and that access to financial power is that which had, hitherto, been most overlooked by both economists and political scientists. In commenting on her work, this dissertation first outlines her major contributions to the discipline before critique her work using the counter-analysis of academics such as May (2000??), and Leander (2001). This is primarily a secondary source based dissertation that requires the writer to have a solid knowledge of the work of Strange and would be suitable at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Leander, A. (2001). ‘Dependency today: Finance, firms, Mafias and the State: A review of Susan Strange’s work from a developing country perspective’. Third World Quarterly, vol. 22 (1), pp. 115-128.
  • May, C. (1996). ‘Strange fruit: Susan Strange’s theory of structural power in the international political economy’. Global Society: Journal of Interdisciplinary International Relations, vol. 10(2), pp. 167-189.
  • Strange, S. (1998). States and markets. London: Continuum.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 2:

The ‘market-authority’ nexus: A contemporary case study and discussion

Focusing on the contemporary issue of (perceived) tax evasion by major multi-national corporations, this dissertation looks at the ‘market-authority’ nexus issue as highlighted and discussed by Susan Strange. In agreeing with her view that a dangerous gap has opened up between the power of the state (in terms of political authority) and the market (in terms of its global reach and supranationalism), this dissertation questions what can be done (if anything) at an individual nation-state level to bring multi-national organisations ‘to heel’ . Analysing a developing issue within the field of political economics, this dissertation combines the theories of IPE with on-going political discourse and offers the writer an ability to use not only secondary but also primary source material.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Langley, P. (2002). World financial orders: An historical international political economy. London: Routledge.
  • May, C. and Tooze, R. (eds) (2002). Authority and markets: Susan Strange’s writings on international political economy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Mikler, J. (2011). ‘The illusion of the ‘power of markets”. Journal of Australian Political Economy, vol. 68, pp. 41-61.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 3:

A review of the 1997 Asian financial crisis and the American sub-prime crisis using IPE

This dissertation analyses the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and international political economy theories to the American sub-prime crisis and its global repercussions. Through so doing, this dissertation posits that it is impossible to either understand or overcome the present global financial crisis without first realising that individual nation states are powerless. It subsequently suggests that only through the creation of a worldwide political authority can the extremes of global financial freedom be curbed so as to ensure that ‘the money men’ behave in a globally responsible fashion.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Claessens, S., Dell’Ariccia, G., Igan, D. and Laeven, L. (2010). ‘Cross-country experiences and policy implications from the global financial crisis’. Economic Policy, vol. 25(62), pp. 267-293.
  • French, S., Leyshon, A. and Thrift, N. (2009). ‘A very geographical crisis: The making and breaking of the 2007-2008 financial crisis’. Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, vol. 2(2), pp. 287-302.
  • Haggard, S. (2000). The political economy of the Asian financial crisis. Washington, DC: Peterson Institute.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 4:

Whither now nationhood within the European Union?

Evaluating the present financial crisis engulfing the Eurozone from an IPE viewpoint, this dissertation questions whether individual national parliaments can remain as deciders of fiscal policy given the upheavals of the last three years. Noting the coalescence between state and supranational issues in areas of agriculture, defence, policing, and enlargement, it argues that – with, or without the UK – the Euro nations have now committed themselves in a practical political sense to fiscal union; for the most important key decisions relating to the ‘national’ economies of Spain and Greece are already made outside of their territorial boundaries. This is a dissertation the subject matter of which is fiercely contested, however, the study posits that a thorough understanding of the concepts of IPE show that the ‘point of no-return’ has already been reached.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dodd, N. (2010). Money, law, sovereignty: Where does this crisis leave the state? European Consortium for Political Research – Standing Group on International Relations conference, 9-11 September 2010, Stockholm.
  • Katsimi, M. and Moutos, T. (2010). ‘EMU and the Greek crisis: The political-economy perspective’. European Journal of Political Economy, vol. 26(4), pp. 568-576.
  • Kickert, W. (2012). ‘State responses to the fiscal crisis in Britain, Germany and the Netherlands’. Public Management Review, vol. 14(3), pp. 299-309.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 5:

‘Only in the field of international politics’ can the American President be presidential: A discussion

Given the complex internal dynamics of foreign policy-making in the US, and their associated strains, this dissertation evaluates the roles of Congress, organised interests, media and public opinion in addition to those of the presidency, State Department, military and intelligence establishments and other governmental agencies in the making and implementation of US foreign policy. Through so doing it will argue that, to a far greater degree than that which is evident in domestic policy, the President has an ability to define the foreign policy agenda upon his own terms. This is a fascinating dissertation topic that could, should the writer so wish, be tailored to individual arenas of conflict, or could, alternatively, be used as a mechanism through which to discuss a more general policy area such as the nebulously phrased ‘war on terror’.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dumbrell, J. and Barrett, D.M. (1990). The making of US foreign policy. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
  • George, A.L. (1980). Presidential decision-making in foreign policy. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Lindsay, J.M. (1994). ‘Congress, foreign-policy and the new institutionalism’. International Studies Quarterly, vol. 38(2), pp. 281-304.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 6:

A paradigm in global justice and human rights: Kosovo, Libya, and Syria

During the last sixty years, global justice and human rights have become major preoccupations of the international world. However, this dissertation argues that there has been a major paradigm in the approaches taken by global powers with regard to intervention and the protection of justice and human rights over the past twenty years. Focusing on the conflicts in Kosovo, Libya and Syria, this dissertation first provides a brief synopsis of the three conflicts before providing a critique of the international communities reactions to them; in so doing, it suggests that with regard to Libya – regime change was the primary political driver and that in Syria active involvement to safeguard human rights has been abandoned.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Benhabib, S. (2012). ‘Is there a human right to democracy? Beyond interventionism and indifference’. Philosophical Dimensions of Human Rights, SpringerLink, pp. 191-213.
  • Tutuianu, S. (2013). Towards global justice: Sovereignty in an interdependent world. The Hague: Asser Press.
  • Williams, P.D. and Bellamy, A.J. (2012). Principles, politics, and prudence: Libya, the responsibility to protect, and the use of military force. Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations, vol. 18(3), pp. 273-297.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 7:

World politics portrayals in popular film: Separating myth from reality

World politics tends to be presented, academically, with reference to the image of a ‘higher’ realm of politics: namely, one peopled by elites such as diplomats, heads of state, military officers or, more abstractly, by states-as-actors. Such representations of world politics are reproduced in popular culture, especially within spy fiction films such as that seen within the modern Bond films. In discussing the nature of this representation, this dissertation concurrently notes that it needs to be remembered that popular film culture also presents the possibility of a politics that is removed from the concerns and experiences of ‘ordinary’ people. Thus, it suggests that, paradoxically, world politics in popular film culture is both a reproduction of alienated or elite versions of global politics and a critique of such politics.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hozic, A.A. (2001). Hollywood: Space, power and fantasy in the American economy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
  • Schiller, H.I. (1992). Mass communications and the American empire. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
  • Shapiro, M.J. (2009). Cinematic politics. New York: Routledge.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 8:

The doctrine of mandala: A critique of Hindu theories of international relations

Moving away from traditional western ideals of IPE, this dissertation focuses on Hindu theories of international relations and particularly the doctrine of mandala and issues of external sovereignty and relationships between states. This dissertation seeks to further the general understanding of readers as to what can be gained from an appreciation of differing cultural stances in IPE. As such, this is a dissertation that will primarily rely upon existing secondary data and take the form of a thorough literature review – linked to contemporary and historic examples. It is thus a thesis area ideally suited to someone who does not wish to engage in the collation of new primary data.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • McCleary, R.M. and Barro, R J. (2006). ‘Religion and political economy in an international panel’. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, vol. 45(2), pp. 149-175.
  • Modelski, G. (1964). ‘Kautilya: Foreign policy and international systems in the ancient Hindu world’. American Political Science Review, vol. 58(3), pp. 549-560.
  • Shahi, D. (2013). ‘Indian scholarship on international relations and multilateralism’. Economic & Political Weekly, vol. 48(5), pp. 51-58.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 9:

China: An untameable menace to the West?

The West has wielded economic, cultural and military power over the rest of the world since the 18th century; this dissertation seeks to explore how China will exercise the same power over the coming centuries, and how the West will react to such a reversal in fortune. China’s continuing ideology of Communism threatens the posturing of Western democracies; her population dwarfs that of Western countries; and, in 2013 she overtook the United States with regard to trade. Addressing these three varied points, this is a dissertation that looks not only at China’s potential role but also pays especial attention to Russian-Sino relations.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Breslin, S. (2009). ‘Understanding China’s regional rise: Interpretations, identities and implications’. International Affairs, vol. 85(4), pp. 817-835.
  • Deng, Y. (2008). China’s struggle for status: The realignment of international relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Ikenberry, G.J. (2008). ‘Rise of China and the future of the West: Can the liberal system survive. Foreign Affairs, vol. 87, pp. 23-28.

Example international political economy dissertation topic 10:

An evaluation of the rising power of India as a global economic and political power-house: The case for its having a seat on the UN Security Council

With its booming economy, sizeable population and ever increasing global presence, there is a case for India to be given a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In addition, as Britain and France are now faced with a military scenario in which resources are shared, there is an additional argument that their two seats should either be replaced by one or given over to a single European representative. Addressing both the arguments – to enlarge the Security Council by one and the argument that India should take the seat vacated by either the UK or France – this is a dissertation that adds to an existing body of secondary literature by conducting interviews with a number of senior Indian parliamentarians as well as ambassadors.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Imber, M. (2006). ‘The reform of the UN Security Council’. International Relations, vol. 20(3), pp. 328-334.
  • Narlikar, A. (2011). ‘Is India a responsible great power?’ Third World Quarterly, vol. 32(9), pp. 1607-1621.
  • Stolberg, S.G. and Yardley, J. (2010). ‘Countering China, Obama backs India for UN Council’. 8th November, 2010, The New York Times.

If these example topics have given you some inspiration and you now feel ready to choose a dissertation topic, see our guide to choosing a dissertation topic to help you get started.

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