Mechanisms and Models: Some Examples from International Relations

  • Colin WightEmail author
Part of the Social Morphogenesis book series (SOCMOR)


This chapter attempts to unpack the concept of social mechanisms and, in particular, provides the outline of what a realist treatment of them should minimally involve. The chapter also examines some common misconceptions that arise in the literature on social mechanisms and outlines a set of methodological principles that a realist approach to mechanisms should entail. On the basis of these methodological principles, the chapter then explores some important changes in international relations, in particular, relating to the internet, global social protest and social media. What is producing these important developments in global politics are the two interacting and mutually reinforcing mechanisms of a decline in political trust and an increase in communicative potential that help explain emerging forms of protest in the Information Age.


Social mechanisms Reductionism Determinism Social media Communication Political trust Protest Information Age 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Government and International RelationsUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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