International Relations Personal Statement
A knowledge of global affairs is imperative to all calibres of people because it directly affects the ways in which all levels of a functioning society operates. After studying the global shift of power, I found that the 19th century was the most important period for establishing trade relations and cultural norms, such as the shift from an agrarian culture to an industrial one.
International Relations is inherently ingrained into most other subjects, not least of which being Business and Law. Firstly, Business provides key insights into international relations, specifically in reference to international trade.
Trade is the basis of all relationships between states, as evident in the current trade war between America and China, which a recent Economist article described this as "the superpower split". I found this particularly gripping as it embodies development, as China went from suffering a huge regression between the Opium War and the revolution of 1949, to having the largely encompassing influence in international trade it has today.
Additionally, the study of law, specifically, international law is intrinsically linked to international relations as it what governs the interactions between states. International law investigates issues surrounding human rights, trade, war, etc. This changes the ways in which states interact, by promoting and hindering certain practices.
After attending a lecture at the University of Birmingham on Nobert Elias' Civilising Process held by Andrew Linklater, I found it compelling due to the description of civilisation as a set of restraints designed to prevent unfavourable behaviour. This examination of societies throughout history drew on the ideas of religious dominance. Such as the power of religion in early Europe, which acted as a political body.
This period witnessed a de-civilising process, which is intriguing as it goes against the intention of restraining certain behaviours to cause a society to be more civilised. Moreover, I've completed an OpenLearn course on 'Economics explains discrimination in the labour market'. This was fascinating as it compared Neoclassical and Institutionalist schools of thought. In reference to institutionalism, I explored the segmented labour theory. A key idea within this theory was the separation of the labour market into core and periphery firms.
This model can be applied to the countries in the world, as it can for firms within a market. I was introduced to this idea in 'The Global Transformation' by B. Buzan & G. Lawson. This book changed my view on IR as it highlighted the importance of the 19th century. The developments of physical interaction capacity brought about the transport utilisation of roads, steamships, telegraph, and other systems of transport which lead to the 'combination' of states within the global transformation. I also found the book to be captivating due to the deindustrialisation of states due to imperialism, whilst others flourished.
As a finalist in the NCH 2019 essay competition, I investigated what kinds of inequality are unjust. Using ideas regarding economic and natural inequalities, I had linked philosophical attitudes to the current economy, such as John Rawls’ political philosophy to economic inequality. Within this essay, I had developed reasoning skills, which will benefit me greatly in this course and university life as a whole.
Similarly, having been involved in debating clubs in primary and secondary school has influenced me academically to employ argumentative techniques in my work. Having volunteered for the National Institute of Conductive Education, I have learnt how to manage my time efficiently. Through martial arts training, I developed discipline and resilience.
This programme would enable me to explore more deeply regarding contemporary issues surrounding IR, as well as foreign policy, and other issues. I am excited to employ skills from this degree in the world of work, as well as engage with the community.