Theories of War

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A significant amount of research in International Relations (IR) has been inspired by inquiry into the meaning, causes, and consequences of the phenomena of war – both in contemporary global politics and throughout history. That inquiry has produced many contributions to thinking about “the war puzzle” in global politics, but no single or consensus theory of war. In fact, the multiple causes of war make it too complicated for any single theory to cover. The complexity of the “war puzzle” has led to a significant amount of theorizing from diverse perspectives. This chapter will discuss many of those theories, and show the ways in which they individually and collectively neglect gender. I argue that this neglect is problematic because war cannot be fully understood without gender analysis. This chapter makes that argument first, by outlining a number of traditional approaches to war, and then by discussing the ways that gender is key to understanding war, conceptually, empirically, and normatively.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Handbook on Gender and Conflict
EditorsFionnuala Ni Aolain, Naomi Cahn, Dina Francesca Haynes, Nahla Valji
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780199300983
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


  • gender
  • war theory
  • feminism
  • feminist IR
  • feminist security studies

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