The terms international relations and international politics have been used interchangeably. Many top-ranking scholars on the subject like Prof. Morgenthau and Kenneth Thompson have used the term international relations in place of international politics.
There are others like Schwarzenegger, Palmer, Perkins and John. Burton who actually prefer the term international relations to international.
The term international relations has a much wider sphere and meaning than that of international politics. International relations, in fact, is a considerably broader term and covers all sorts of relations among peoples and groups in the world society.
It refers to both public and private interaction at the international level. These relations may or may not be political, economic, social, cultural, official or legal. It also covers fields such as international sports, technical cooperation, commercial and financial transactions and many other such like activities.
Harold and Margaret Sprout hold that in the United States international relations means all human behaviour on one side of the national boundary affecting human behaviour on the other side of the boundary.
Palmer and Perkins hold that international relations includes all aspect of human relationship.
International Politics, however, refers to only those actions which are political in nature. International relations includes all. It is, therefore, not proper to call it as international relations as discussed under:
Firstly, the term international relations means contacts, connections as well as action and interaction. Relationship thus means reciprocity or due response from the other side also. But we find that certain nations do not respond at all. How can then it be relations?
Secondly, the term relations includes even non-political aspects of transactions between nations also. But it is difficult to understand now any kind,of relationship among nations whether cultural, economic or other-wise can have no political implications.
Thirdly, all the text-books on the subject concern themselves with political behaviour of the nations. Other aspects have been ignored.