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The paper seeks to examine the ways in which an understanding of international relations is produced. It begins by examining the two broad camps: the positivists and the post-positivist and distinguishes between explanation and understanding of international relations. It then provides a detailed account of existing literature that uses the conceptual framework of ‘levels of analysis’ in international relations. The paper concludes by arguing that depending on one’s theoretical presumptions and the relative methodological utility, the levels of analysis provides a framework to understand and explain a given phenomenon. Thus, the choice is specific to case, methodology and theoretical orientation.

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