Geopolitics vs Political Geography vs International Relations

Geopolitics vs Political Geography vs International Relations

There are three concepts that represent the different fields of study or discipline that are explored and undertaken to evaluate and understand the interactions or relationships between and among different actors in the international system or the global sociopolitical and socioeconomic stages. These are geopolitics, political geography, and international relations. This article presents a definitive explanation of the difference between the three.

Explaining the Difference Between Geopolitics, Political Geography, and International Relations

Geopolitics is the study of the influences of geographical factors in politics and the relationships between different political actors which include sovereign states, de-factor states, and subnational geopolitical entities. Furthermore, within the context of international relations, it provides the framework for understanding and formulating foreign policy and for explaining and predicting the behaviors of international political actors based on geographical variables.

On the other hand, compared to geopolitics, political geography is a branch of geography and a derivative of human geography that is concerned with boundaries and ownerships of jurisdictions among state actors. It aims to understand the spatial distribution of political processes and how such processes are influenced by the geographic location of an actor. The main concern of this subdiscipline is to analyze the interrelationship between people, state, and territory.

International relations is based on a multidisciplinary approach in analyzing the interactions and relationships or interconnectedness among sovereign states and various non-state actors such as international governmental organizations, nonprofits, and multinational companies. There are several theories and schools of thought that have been devised to provide a framework for the analysis of the relationships and interconnectedness in the international system.

The scope of international relations is comprehensive because it takes into consideration other fields and concepts such as globalization and internationalization, society and culture, trade and commerce, economics, comparative religions, environmental studies, politics and governance or national security, and terrorism and organized crimes, among others. Take note that geopolitics and political geography also fall under the greater scope of international relations.

Summary and Takeaway: Geopolitics vs Political Geography vs International Relations in a Nutshell

All three fields have some overlaps. This is true when all three are viewed or utilized within the framework of global integration. Both geopolitics and political geography can also be applied in non-international or localized landscapes while international is particularly concerned with the global landscape. However, based on the definitions, the difference between geopolitics, political geography, and international relations can be summed up in simpler concepts

Geopolitics examines how geography shapes politics while political geography focuses on how politics shapes geography. These two are related but represent two ways of looking at the same thing. International relations is concerned with the interrelationships between different state and non-state actors, and the political, economic, and social structures and processes that transpire in the international landscape and shape these relationships and interactions.