Research and Reports

Cyber Politics in International Relations

The convergence of three legacies of the twentieth century shape powerful new dimensions of international relations in the twenty-first century – the creation of cyberspace, the enhanced opportunities for electronic communication and networking, and the increased knowledge intensity of economic activities. This research examines the CyberPolitics enabled by these legacies, and implications for international relations theory and policy.

CyberPolitics, a recently coined term, refers to the conjunction of two processes or realities – those pertaining to human interactions surrounding the determination of who gets what, when, how. Due to Lasswell (1950), this view of politics remains central to political science and international relations, and those enabled by the uses of virtual spaces as new arenas of contention with modalities and realities of their own. Despite differences in perspectives worldwide, there is a general scholarly understanding about the meaning of “politics”; the second part of the newly coined term. It is the uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding the first term; “cyber” that distinguishes the joint term of this newly constructed semantic.

Cyberspace is a new arena of international interaction; electronic networking is a new enabler of human communication; and the diffusion of knowledge is newly recognized as a major driver of growth and development. While the manifestations and implications of each legacy are situation-specific, jointly they are ubiquitous and pervasive. They are shaping new situations that could even require significant changes in the conceptual tools with which we view world politics. Their very nature may even challenge some fundamentals of the social sciences. 

Questions include: Can we expect the realities of the 21st century to conform to traditional international relations theories? Are there any implications of cyberspace for international relations theory broadly defined or for the distribution of power, influence, and leverage more specifically? If so, what might these be? These questions are central to the new research agenda focusing on Explorations in Cyber International Relations.