Complexity Theory as a New Lens in IR: System and Change

  • Luis Tomé
  • Şuay Nilhan Açıkalın
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Complexity book series (SPCOM)


Discussions over shifting from linearity to nonlinearity in natural sciences have led to unexpected reflections in social sciences. Nonlinear theories have gained a new momentum in our understanding of complex and complicated social events. Similarly, the changing patterns of international relations (IR) encourage us to reconsider the dimensions of international systems and discuss the concept of change and order. This paper seeks to explain the contribution of complexity theory to the understanding of the international system and its change. Firstly, it justifies the need for a new approach in IR theorization in the light of the limits of conventional IR theories as well as of the changing patterns from linearity to nonlinearity. Then, it demonstrates the usefulness of complexity theory’s core assumptions to define the international system, the idea of change and the agent-structure debate.


Complexity theory IR theory Change System Physics 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luis Tomé
    • 1
  • Şuay Nilhan Açıkalın
    • 2
  1. 1.Autónoma University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Middle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey

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