Structuralism in Northern Europe

Structuralism implies Northern Europe as a certain structure (comparing to constructivism, it is not a vague construct), a system and all the changes that may happen within its borders come within structuralism. The discourse of cooperation has become topical recently and is being successfully interpreted by structuralism. Economic cooperation, environment problems, regional infrastructure, tourism, indigenous people – everything that comprises the region – are highly interested for structuralists.

In accordance with this theory, international relations structure depends on the will of super-powers and powers, at the same time small states don’t influence ir at all. This was supported by B.Buzan[1] who claimed that hostility either hospitability of the states together with resources redistribution define the ir structure. But these two factors are again influenced by super-powers.

During the Cold War 4 states out of 5 (Finland joined later) became Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members[2]. 3 states out of 5 were NATO members. As a result, misunderstandings in the region of Northern Europe are conditioned on by two different structures of contemporary ir – Russia and NATO. Officially Russia is opposing military bloc of NATO. What Buzan meant in his theory, we are having this in practice – unfriendly Russian-Norwegian relationship because of continental shelf resources supported by another powerful actor – NATO[3]. There is a vivid example when in March 2009 NATO had exercises in Norwegian waters with the scenario – struggle against Russia for continental shelf resources. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia expressed its misunderstanding of Norwegian policy since NATO is not able to settle such kind of disputes[4].

Another structure which may define international relations in the region – the European Union. Denmark entered the EU in 1975, while Sweden and Finland only in 1995. The main goal of the EU is political and economic integration in Europe in order to create peace, prosperity and freedom for citizens of member-countries[5]. This structure has its goal to become a powerful actor in ir. There are scholars who doubt that the EU is powerful, for example, Russian scientist A.Bogaturov in his article “Leadership and decentralization in international system”[6] calls the EU a “pseudo pole” since its leadership is a combined leadership of all member-states. German official Horst Telchik, ex-councilor of Helmut Kohl, also claimed that the EU potential  exists only because of its close links with the USA[7]. Of course, there are huge debates on the issue weather the EU powerful or not, we are only concentrating on structuralism.


[1] Buzan В. Peоple, Fear and State: The national Security Problem in International Relations. — London, 1983.

[2] Convention on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,  PARIS 14th December 1960 [Electronic resource]/ OECD . – Electron.art. – http://oecdru.org/oecd_e_conv.html , free.  – Screen title. – Eng.lang.

[3] Norway is not sure about NATO’s help in case of clashes with Russia [Electronic resource]/ Norse.RU . – Electron. Art. –http://norse.ru/society/norway/nato-norway.html ,free – Screen title. – Rus.lang.

[4] Russia is surprised with NATO’s exercises in Norwegian waters with the scenario of clashes for continental shelf resources   [Electronic resource]/ . – Electron. Art. –http://www.oko-planet.su/politik/newsday/7852-rossiya-udivlena-provedeniem-uchenij-nato-v-vodax.html ,free – Screen title. – Rus.lang.

[5] Panorama of the EU [Electronic resource]/Europa – the official site of the European Union. – Electron. art. –http://europa.eu/abc/panorama/index_en.htm , free.  – Screen title. -Eng.lang.

[6] Leadership and decentralization in international system  [Electronic resource]//Portalus library . – Электрон. дан. http://www.portalus.ru/modules/internationallaw/rus_readme.php?subaction=showfull&id=1229061622&archive=&start_from=&ucat=1& ,free – Screen title. – Rus.lang.

[7] Telchik H. A multipolar world can be dangerous  [Electronic resource] /H.Telchik . – Electron. Art. – http://www.globalaffairs.ru/articles/2187.html ,free – Screen title. – Rus.lang.

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