Article

Epistemology matters: A reply to David Patrick Houghton and a call for epistemethodological pluralism

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.

Abstract

In a 2008 International Politics article, David Patrick Houghton questions the importance of ‘The Third Debate’ in IR theory between ‘positivism and postmodernism’ and the relative worth of contrasting epistemological positions. Houghton's main argument is that the philosophical underpinnings of IR have not been central to what IR scholars actually do; specifically, the epistemological differences between positivists and postmodernists have little practical effect upon their empirical findings. In short, epistemology does not matter. This article analyses Houghton's thesis within the context of a dominant discourse in the discipline that derides postpositivism and, by corollary, rejects methodological pluralism incorporating both positivist and postpositivist approaches, what I refer to as ‘epistemethodological pluralism’. This article questions the main assumptions underpinning this discourse by deconstructing the definition of ‘postpositivism’ that underpins the ‘naysayer’ arguments deriding or dismissing epistemological differences between positivism and postpositivism. Using examples of positivist and postpositivist research that focus on the foreign policy of the United States, European Union integration and Middle East politics, the article demonstrates how epistemological issues have a significant impact on empirical research in International Relations and illustrates the benefits of integrating the different epistemological approaches.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

Article
The article interprets the role of national identity in contemporary international relations scholarship. It distinguishes two main approaches - the social constructivist and post-structural approaches - and shows their deficiencies. To overcome them, it offers a third way to approach identity that builds on a pragmatic combination of these two schools. It proposes grasping identity according to the extent of its sedimentation. At the lowest level of sedimentation, identity entrepreneurs fight for their visions of identity. The middle level is where more concrete demarcations are made. The most sedimented identites take on the form of a culture as defined by social constructivists. The identities in all the layers interact with each other, both positively (less sedimented layers accelerate changes in more sedimented layers) and negatively (deeper identities inhibit changes in lower levels).
Article
Full-text available
Článek interpretuje roli národní identity v současném výzkumu mezinárodních vztahů. Rozděluje dva hlavní přístupy – přístup sociálního konstruktivismu a poststrukturalismu – a ukazuje na nedostatky, které jsou v díle jejich autorů obsaženy. Pro jejich překonání navrhuje nový přístup ke zkoumání identity, který vychází z pragmatického prolnutí obou zmíněných škol. Navrhuje uchopit identitu pomocí míry její sedimentace, a to na nejmělčí, středně hluboké a nejhlubší úrovni. Na nejmělčí úrovni sedimentace se odehrává diskurzivní boj aktérů o vlastní vize identity. Na střední úrovni pronikají konkrétnější formy identit. Nejhlouběji sedimentované identity nabývají formy kultury v chápání sociálních konstruktivistů. Identity ve všech vrstvách se následně zpětně ovlivňují, a to jak pozitivně (mělčí úrovně akcelerují změny v hlubších), tak negativně (hlouběji sedimentované identity brání změnám na mělčích úrovních).
Article
This reply to Dr Karen Devine restates my claim, originally published in International Politics, that our epistemological assumptions do not affect our substantive (or ontological) claims about international relations (IR) as much as we commonly think. Even if we restrict ourselves purely to deconstructing the arguments others have made, and to analyzing the discourses of IR, it is very difficult in practice to be genuinely postmodernist in a way that makes a real difference to empirical research. We always end up saying that reality is the way it is, no matter how hard we try to hedge it around with disclaimers of various sorts.
Book
Full-text available
FROM THE PREFACE: Metapsychology concerns itself with the foundational problems of psychology. It self-critically seeks to analyze the basic nature of psychological discourse. It does not ask questions about specific psychological phenomena: how to assess, how to describe, or explain. Rather, it asks how we came to ask those questions in the way we did, what issues have been overlooked, what problems interfere in the way the question has been asked, and what is likely to result if inquiry continues its present course.
Article
Full-text available
Alexander Wendt is Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale University. For their exceptionally detailed and helpful comments I am grateful to Mike Barnett, Mlada Bukovansky, Bud Duvall, Peter Katzenstein, Mark Laffey, David Lumsdaine, Sylvia Maxfield, Nina Tannenwald, Jutta Weldes, and the members of the Yale IR Reading Group. 1. John J. Mearsheimer, "The False Promise of International Institutions," International Security, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Winter 1994/95). Subsequent references appear in parentheses in the text. 2. Other efforts include Robert Gilpin, "The Richness of the Tradition of Political Realism," International Organization, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Spring 1984), pp. 287-304, and Markus Fischer, "Feudal Europe, 800-1300," International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 427-466. 3. On neoliberalism and critical theory, see Robert Keohane, "International institutions: Two approaches," International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 4 (December 1988), pp. 379-396, and Wendt, "Collective Identity Formation and the International State," American Political Science Review, Vol. 88, No. 2 (June 1994), pp. 384-396. Mearsheimer treats collective security as a third form of institutionalism, but this is unwarranted. Collective security is an approach to international order, arguable on either neoliberal or critical grounds, not a form of institutional analysis. 4. This makes them all "constructivist" in a broad sense, but as the critical literature has evolved, this term has become applied to one particular school. 5. These are far more than differences of "emphasis," as suggested by Mearsheimer's disclaimer, note 127. 6. "Constitute" is an important term in critical theory, with a special meaning that is not captured by related terms like "comprise," "consist of," or "cause." To say that "X [for example, a social structure] constitutes Y [for example, an agent]," is to say that the properties of those agents are made possible by, and would not exist in the absence of, the structure by which they are "constituted." A constitutive relationship establishes a conceptually necessary or logical connection between X and Y, in contrast to the contingent connection between independently existing entities that is established by causal relationships. The identity-behavior distinction is partly captured by Robert Powell's distinction between preferences over outcomes and preferences over strategies; Robert Powell, "Anarchy in International Relations Theory," International Organization, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Spring 1994), pp. 313-344. The main exception to the mainstream neglect of structural effects on state identity is Kenneth Waltz's argument that anarchy produces "like units"; Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979), pp. 74-77. Constructivists think there are more possibilities than this; see Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992), pp. 391-425. 7. What follows could also serve as a rough definition of "discourse." 8. See Karl Deutsch, et al., Political Community and the North Atlantic Area (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957). 9. For a good general discussion of this point, see Douglas Porpora, "Cultural Rules and Material Relations," Sociological Theory, Vol. 11, No. 2 (July 1993), pp. 212-229. 10. On the social content of interests, see Roy D'Andrade and Claudia Strauss, eds., Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992). 11. See Alexander Wendt, "The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations Theory," International Organization, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Summer 1987), pp. 335-370; and, for fuller discussion, Ian Shapiro and Alexander Wendt, "The Difference that Realism Makes," Politics and Society, Vol. 20, No. 2 (June 1992), pp. 197-223. 12. See, among others, Michael Barnett, "Institutions, Roles, and Disorder," International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 37, No. 3 (September 1993), pp. 271-296; David Lumsdaine, Moral Vision in International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993); Samuel Barkin and Bruce Cronin, "The State and the Nation," International Organization, Vol. 48, No. 1 (Winter 1994), pp. 107-130; Rey Koslowski and Friedrich Kratochwil, "Understanding Change in International Politics," International Organization, Vol. 48, No. 2 (Spring 1994), pp. 215-248; Thomas Biersteker and Cynthia Weber, eds., State Sovereignty as Social Construct (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming); and Peter Katzenstein, ed., Constructing National Security (working title), forthcoming. 13. On the social basis of conflict, see Georg Simmel...
Article
Full-text available
Security studies has been slow to accept critical challenges to its problematic, and these have often been met with hostility and deliberately marginalized. This article responds to some of the critiques, and outlines the main elements of a critical engagement with security studies. It discusses the intellectual and `disciplining' power of rationalist and neorealist security studies scholarship, and highlights some of the practices that marginalize critical scholarship. It then overviews the rich and diverse threads of current research within `critical security studies', and emphasizes the central themes of its research agenda: how threats and appropriate responses are constructed; how the `objects' of security are constructed; and what the possibilities are for the transformation of `security dilemmas'. It summarizes the six central claims (concerning the constitution of the actors of world politics, its dynamic and constructed nature, the concomitant epistemological claims and methodological tools, and the purpose of theorizing) that are the hallmark of a critical approach to security studies. Finally, it clarifies what these claims do and do not entail for research and practice in international security studies.
Article
Full-text available
Although International Relations and Middle East Studies share an interest in several aspects of Middle East politics, interdisciplinary research remains surprisingly scarce. This article asks why, despite repeated calls since the inception of these fields, this interdisciplinary gap has never been bridged. It supplements conventional approaches which emphasize a simple intellectual history, with elements of a political economy of the organization and production of knowledge, arguing that while intellectual convergence may be a necessary condition for interdisciplinarity, only a shift in epistemic grounds within which fields understand their scholarship can bring this about, and that this in turn requires a shift in the way knowledge is organized and produced. First, the article provides a genealogy of calls for interdisciplinary scholarship. Second, it locates interdisciplinary relations in the universalist organization of knowledge within which they emerged and which still (re)produce inter- and intra-disciplinary divides today. Finally, it considers the potential for Constructivism to provide an interdisciplinary bridge.
Article
Full-text available
Acknowledgements 1. Four sociologies of international politics Part I. Social Theory: 2. Scientific realism and social kinds 3. 'Ideas all the way down?': on the constitution of power and interest 4. Structure, agency and culture Part II. International Politics: 5. The state and the problem of corporate agency 6. Three cultures of anarchy 7. Process and structural change 8. Conclusion Bibliography Index.
Article
Full-text available
Women now receive political science degrees in record numbers, but female representation among political science faculty still lags behind that of many other disciplines. Only 26% of the 13,000 political science professors in the United States today are women (Sedowski and Brintall 2007). According to our recent survey of international relations faculty in the United States—the 2006 Teaching, Research, and International Politics (TRIP) Survey—women comprise an even smaller proportion of IR scholars: 77% of the IR faculty respondents are men, while only 23% are women. Even more than their counterparts in the wider field of political science, women in IR tend to be more junior and less likely to hold tenure than their male colleagues. Women comprise a minority at every level of the profession, but they are most scarce at the full professor level: Only 17% of political science professors and 14% of IR professors are women (Maliniak et al. 2007c; Sedowski and Brintall 2007).
Article
Full-text available
Research in international relations has identified a variety of actors who appear to influence U.S. foreign policy, including experts and “epistemic communities,” organized interests (especially business and labor), and ordinary citizens or “public opinion.” This research, however, has often focused on a single factor at a time, rather than systematically testing the relative importance of alternative possible influences. Using extensive survey data gathered over three decades we conduct a comparative test, attempting to account for the expressed foreign policy preferences of policy makers by means of the preferences of the general public and those of several distinct sets of elites. The results of cross-sectional and time-lagged analyses suggest that U.S. foreign policy is most heavily and consistently influenced by internationally oriented business leaders, followed by experts (who, however, may themselves be influenced by business). Labor appears to have significant but smaller impacts. The general public seems to have considerably less effect, except under particular conditions. These results generally hold over several different analytical models (including two-observation time series) and different clusters of issues (economic, military, and diplomatic), with some variations across different institutional settings (the U.S. House, Senate, and executive branch).
Article
Full-text available
This article argues that the current self-understanding of IR theory is misconceived and that it is time to move beyond the stagnant positivism/postpositivism debate. We argue that the attempt to occupy a middle ground compromise position between positivism and postpositivism is untenable because these two positions share much in common. In this sense a middle ground position between two problematic positions does not produce a less problematic position. What is needed is a metatheoretical analysis of the two extreme positions. We attempt to show how both positivism and postpositivism are embedded in a discourse of philosophical anti-realism. This anti-realism occurs as a result of what we call the post-Kantian-Humean ‘problem-field’ of international relations from which most contemporary positivist, constructivist, and post-structuralist IR approaches stem. We then try to overcome this ‘problem-field’ by means of radically reclaiming reality through a critical realist philosophy. Once outlined we try to show how this critical realist philosophy can help transcend some of the antinomies currently faced by IR scholars.
Article
Full-text available
In a 2006 International Political Science Review article, entitled "Choosing to Go It Alone: Irish Neutrality in Theoretical and Comparative Perspective," Neal G. Jesse argues that Irish neutrality is best understood through a neoliberal rather than a neorealist international relations theory framework. This article posits an alternative "critical social constructivist" framework for understanding Irish neutrality. The first part of the article considers the differences between neoliberalism and social constructivism and argues why critical social constructivism's emphasis on beliefs, identity, and the agency of the public in foreign policy are key factors explaining Irish neutrality today. Using public opinion data, the second part of the article tests whether national identity, independence, ethnocentrism, attitudes to Northern Ireland, and efficacy are factors driving public support for Irish neutrality. The results show that public attitudes to Irish neutrality are structured along the dimensions of independence and identity, indicating empirical support for a critical social constructivist framework of understanding of Irish neutrality.
Book
This book brings together leading figures who have made key contributions to the development of international theory to provide a major survey of the state of the subject. The contributors analyze the traditional theoretical approaches in the discipline, the issues and groups that are marginalized by mainstream theory, and important new developments in international theory. The book concludes with five chapters that look at the future of the subject. This volume will be a valuable text for both students and scholars of international relations.
Book
This book uses three controversial contemporary American foreign policy problems to introduce students to the 'new debates' in international relations, in which the criticisms of constructivism, interpretivism, and postmodernism are presented against traditional positivist concepts of social science.
Article
The 1990s have seen the emergence of a new 'constructivist' approach to international theory and analysis. This article is concerned with the relationship between constructivism and critical international theory, broadly defined. Contrary to the claims of several prominent critical theorists of the Third Debate, we argue that constructivism has its intellectual roots in critical social theory, and that the constructivist project of conceptual elaboration and empirical analysis need not violate the principal epistemological, methodological or normative tenets of critical international theory. Furthermore, we contend that constructivism can make a vital contribution to the development of critical international theory, offering crucial insights into the sociology of moral community in world politics. The advent of constructivism should thus be seen as a positive development, one that not only enables critical theorists to mount a more powerful challenge to the dominant rationalist theories, but one that also promises to advance critical international theory itself.
Article
Partisans articulate their positions with passion and intensity, yet the nature of what divides them is hard to pin down. At times we hear of a stand-off between ‘qualitative’ scholars, who make use of archival research, ethnology, textual criticism, and discourse analysis; and ‘quantitative’ scholars, who deploy mathematics, game theory, and statistics. Scholars in the former tradition supposedly disdain the new, hypernumerate, approaches to political science as opaque and overly abstract, while scholars of the latter stripe deride the ‘old’ ways of studying politics as impression istic and lacking in rigor. At other times the schism is portrayed as being about the proper aspiration of the discipline – between those who believe that a scientific explanation of political life is possible, that we can derive something akin to physical laws of human behavior, and those who believe it is not … at still other times the rivals are portrayed as ‘rational choice theorists,’ whose work is animated by the assumption that individuals are rational maximizers of self-interest (often economics, sometimes not), and those who allow for a richer range of human motivations (Shapiro, Smith and Masoud 2004a: 1). This quotation from the introduction to a recent volume on Problems and Methods in the Study of Politics addresses a core methodological issue for the social sciences in general: how many approaches/methods are available for students in the discipline?
Article
The international relations (IR) discipline is dominated by the American research community. Data about publication patterns in leading journals document this situation as well as a variance in theoretical orientations. IR is conducted differently in different places. The main patterns are explained through a sociology of science model that emphasizes the different nineteenth-century histories of the state, the early format of social science, and the institutionalized delineation among the different social sciences. The internal social and intellectual structure of American IR is two-tiered, with relatively independent subfields and a top layer defined by access to the leading journals (on which IR, in contrast to some social sciences, has a high consensus). The famous successive "great debates'' serve an important function by letting lead theorists focus and structure the whole discipline. IR in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom has historically been structured differently, often with power vested more locally. American IR now moves in a direction that undermines its global hegemony. The widespread turn to rational choice privileges a reintegration (and status-wise rehabilitation) with the rest of political science over attention to IR practices elsewhere. This rationalistic turn is alien to Europeans, both because their IR is generally closer to sociology, philosophy, and anthropology, and because the liberal ontological premises of rational choice are less fitting to European societies. Simultaneously, European IR is beginning to break the local power bastions and establish independent research communities at a national or, increasingly, a European level. As American IR turns from global hegemony to national professionalization, IR becomes more pluralistic.
Article
Much of the criticism directed at post-positivist international relations has called for more detailed exploration of its implications for specific areas of investigation. At the same time, the study of foreign policy has been largely unaffected by the critical insights offered by post-positivism. This paper attempts to bridge this gap by examining three approaches to foreign policy analysis and the metatheoretical issues underlying each of them. It is suggested that an approach informed by post-positivist insights can provide a useful alternative to traditional ways of studying foreign policy and can facilitate a more critical interpretation of foreign policy practices. The first two approaches, the Cognitive Decisionmaking Approach and the Social Performance Approach, were chosen as a way of differentiating and highlighting the ontological and theoretical issues that are relevant to understanding and situating the Discursive Practices Approach. After examining the three approaches, I use the Discursive Practices Approach to analyze United States' counterinsurgency policy in the Philippines circa 1950.
Article
This article examines the evolution of security studies, focusing on recent developments in the field. It provides a survey of the field, a guide to the current research agenda, and some practical lessons for managing the field in the years ahead. Security studies remains an interdisciplinary enterprise, but its earlier preoccupation with nuclear issues has broadened to include topics such as grand strategy, conventional warfare, and the domestic sources of international conflict, among others. Work in the field is increasingly rigorous and theoretically inclined, which reflects the marriage between security studies and social science and its improved standing within the academic world. Because national security will remain a problem for states and because an independent scholarly community contributes to effective public policy in this area, the renaissance of security studies is an important positive development for the field of international relations.
Article
The demise of the empiricist-positivist promise for a cumulative behavioral science recently has forced scholars from nearly all the social disciplines to reexamine the ontological, epistemological, and axiological foundations of their scientific endeavors. The "third debate" in the field of international relations parallels this intellectual ferment and constitutes a still maturing disciplinary effort to reconsider theoretical options in a "post-positivist" era. This essay explores the etiology of this debate and critically assesses its implications for current and future theoretical practices. Although the debate has triggered many different responses, the analysis focuses on only one of them-the optimistic response-which both affirms and celebrates the unparalleled theoretical potentialities presumably created by the present intellectual transition. While acknowledging the considerable promise of the third debate, the essay notes that post-positivism offers nearly as many dead ends as it opens promising paths for future research. The essay issues some warnings concerning hazards of misplaced or extravagant theoretical hopes, and it singles out enhanced reflexivity in the scholarly community of international relations as the notable contribution to date of the current theoretical restructuring.
Article
In the spirit of Clifford Geertz's (1983: chap. 1) idea of "blurred genres," this document raises what might appear to be the paradoxical idea of a statistical rationale for qualitative research. More broadly, it considers the potential contribution of statistical theory—understood as a set of tools for reasoning about evidence and inference—to refining qualitative methods. 2 The docu-ment follows closely the outline provided for the NSF Workshop. This focus may be quite remote from the concerns of many workshop participants. Yet I am convinced that if we really are concerned with "interdisciplinary standards for systematic qualita-tive research," this is one of a number of promising avenues to pursue. 1. Identifying Standards of Rigor in Political Science. Political science is an incessant importer of methodologies, and it can easily be argued that political science methodology is sufficiently fractured as to make it misleading to speak of widely held standards of rigor. For present purposes, however, it is useful to comment on three potential sources of such standards. Option 1. The Quantitative Template. This template is proposed in Designing Social Inquiry by King, Keohane, and Verba (1994), 3 who map the norms of large-N regression analy-sis onto qualitative research, seeking to provide standards and thereby offering the basis for "Scientific Inference in Qualitative Research," as they put it in the subtitle of their book. By contrast, in Rethinking Social Inquiry: Diverse Tools, Shared Standards, Brady and Collier (2004) and collaborators strongly dissent from this view, providing a comprehensive critique of the idea that the regression framework provides a general set of standards for guiding research. Regression analysis is unquestionably an indispensable analytic tool in the social sciences. Yet it is essential to not overestimate either the overall power of inference provided by regression-based research, or the power of inference contributed by specific tools and methodo-logical injunctions associated with regression analysis and related quantitative techniques—for example, ideas about degrees of freedom, the traditional injunction concerning post-hoc hypothesis reformulation, and what can readily be seen as the careless extension of the idea of statistical significance.
Article
This article examines the content of concepts of neutrality articulated in elite and public discourses in the context of the development of the European Union’s (EU) Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). In parallel with security and defence policy developments in successive EU treaties, many argue that the meaning of neutrality has been re-conceptualized by elites in EU ‘neutral’ member states (specifically, Austria, Finland, Ireland and Sweden) to the point of irrelevance and inevitable demise. Others argue that the concept of ‘military’ neutrality, as it is termed by elites in Ireland, or ‘military non-alignment’, as it is termed by elites in Austria, Sweden and Finland, meaning non-membership of military alliances, is compatible with the CSDP in the Lisbon Treaty. An investigation of these paradoxical discursive claims as to the status of neutrality yields findings of a divergence in public ‘active’ and elite ‘military’ concepts of neutrality that embodies competing foreign policy agendas. These competing, value-laden, concepts reflect tensions between, on the one hand, the cultural influences of a domestic constituency holding strong national identities and role-conceptions informed by a postcolonial or anti-imperialist legacy and, on the other hand, elite socialization influences of ‘global actor’ and common defence-supported identity ambitions encountered at the EU level that can induce discursively subtle yet materially significant shifts in neutral state foreign policy. The article concludes with an analysis of the compatibility of both ‘military’ neutrality and the ‘active’ concept of neutrality with the CSDP in the Lisbon Treaty and draws conclusions on the future role of neutrality both inside and outside the EU framework.
Article
The traditional focus on power and politics in security studies has been robustly challenged this decade by the development of two ideational approaches to the subject: constructivism and culturalism. The first section briefly examines these two literatures, considers how they have differed in the past, and suggests how they may now form a coherent constructivist research program. Section two clears up two common misconceptions about constructivism in security studies-namely, that it does not have a positivist epistemology but has a normative agenda. Constructivists do seek to explain the world (according to rules of social science) but not to change it. Section three addresses the criticism that a positivist epistemology is inconsistent with an ontology that gives causal weight to cultural variables. The final section concludes by discussing two options-one confrontational, the other cooperative-for a constructivist engagement of realism (the dominant approach in North American security studies).
Article
Ted Hopf is Visiting Professor of Peace Research, The Mershon Center, Ohio State University. He is the author of Peripheral Visions: Deterrence Theory and American Foreign Policy in the Third World, 1965-1990 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994) and is at work on Constructing Foreign Policy at Home: Moscow 1955-1999, in which a theory of identity and international relations is developed and tested. He can be reached by e-mail at «hopf.2@osu.edu». I am most grateful to Matt Evangelista and Peter Katzenstein who both read and commented on many less-than-inspiring drafts of this work, and, more important, supported my overall research agenda. I am also thankful to Peter Kowert and Nicholas Onuf for inviting me to Miami in the winter of 1997 to a conference at Florida International University at which I was compelled to come to grips with the difference between critical and conventional constructivisms. I also benefited from especially incisive and critical comments from Henrikki Heikka, Badredine Arfi, Robert Keohane, James Richter, Maria Fanis, Ned Lebow, Pradeep Chhibber, Richard Herrmann, David Dessler, and one anonymous reviewer. I would also like to salute the members of my graduate seminar in international relations theory at the University of Michigan, in particular, Irfan Nooruddin, Frank Penirian, Todd Allee, and Jonathan Canedo helped me figure out the relationship between the mainstream and its critics. 1. The canonical neorealist work remains Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1979). The debate between neorealism and neoliberal institutionalism is presented and summarized in David A. Baldwin, ed., Neorealism and Neoliberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993). Constructivist challenges can be found in Nicholas Greenwood Onuf, World of Our Making: Rules and Rule in Social Theory and International Relations (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989); Peter J. Katzenstein, ed., The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996); and Yosef Lapid and Friedrich V. Kratochwil, eds., The Return of Culture and Identity in IR Theory (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner, 1996). 2. Most important for this article, this is the neorealist conceptualization of international structure. All references to neorealism, unless otherwise noted, are from Waltz, Theory of International Politics. 3. Friedrich Kratochwil suggests that this difference in the understanding of structure is because structuralism entered international relations theory not through sociolinguistics, but through microeconomics. Friedrich V. Kratochwil, "Is the Ship of Culture at Sea or Returning?" in Lapid and Kratochwil, The Return of Culture and Identity, p. 211. 4. The critical distinction between action and behavior is made by Charles Taylor, "Interpretation and the Sciences of Man," in Paul Rabinow and William M. Sullivan, eds., Interpretive Social Science: A Second Look (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), pp. 33-81. 5. Ronald L. Jepperson, Alexander Wendt, and Peter J. Katzenstein, "Norms, Identity, and Culture in National Security," in Katzenstein, The Culture of National Security, p. 54. 6. David Dessler, "What's At Stake in the Agent-Structure Debate?" International Organization, Vol. 43, No. 3 (Summer 1989), pp. 459-460. 7. Arnold Wolters, Discord and Collaboration (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962). 8. Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy Is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics," International Organization, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Spring 1992), 391-25. 9. Elizabeth Kier, for example, shows how the same "objective" external structural arrangement of power cannot account for French military strategy between the two world wars. Elizabeth Kier, "Culture and French Military Doctrine before World War II," in Katzenstein, The Culture of National Security, pp. 186-215. 10. The focus on identity does not reflect a lack of appreciation for other elements in the constructivist approach, such as norms, culture, and institutions. Insofar as identities are the most proximate causes of choices, preferences, and action, I concentrate on them, but with the full recognition that identities cannot be understood without a simultaneous account of normative, cultural, and institutional context. 11. Henri Tajfel, Human Groups and Social Categories: Studies in Social Psychology (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1981), p. 255. Although there are many accounts of the origin of identity, I offer a cognitive explanation...
Article
Introduction Part I. Classical Realism and Quantitative International Politics: 1. The role of paradigms in scientific enquiry: a conceptual framework and a set of principles for paradigm evaluation 2. The role of the realist paradigm in the development of a scientific study of international relations 3. Research design: defining and operationalizing the realist paradigm 4. Theory construction as a paradigm-directed activity 5. Data making as a paradigm-directed activity 6. Research as a paradigm-directed activity 7. Evaluation: the adequacy of the realist paradigm 8. Theory and research in the 1970s: the emerging anomalies Part II. Neorealism and Neotraditionalism: International Relations Theory at the Millennium: 9. Retrospective: neorealism and the power of power politics 10. The promise and potential pitfalls of post-modernism: the need for theory reappraisal 11. The realist paradigm as a degenerating research program: neotraditionalism and Waltz's balancing proposition 12. Mearsheimer's multipolar myths and the false promise of realist policy prescriptions: the empirical inaccuracy of the realist paradigm 13. Challenging the relevance and explanatory power of the realist paradigm: the debate on the end of the Cold War 14. Conclusion: the continuing inadequacy of the realist paradigm.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
Article
The end of the Cold War has prompted a good deal of soul-searching in the academic discipline of International Relations (IR). Some results of this process are already apparent; the dominant version of realism, neorealism, is developing in new directions in an attempt to address major areas where the theory has been shown to contain weaknesses (e.g. domestic politics, international cooperation, the analysis of change). Liberal IR-theory is becoming less focused on international institutions and has devoted more attention to the larger issues of democracy and democratization, sovereignty, and change in the context of modernization and globalization. Some bodies of established theory are receiving fresh attention, including the International Society (or English) School, and there is a renewed interest in the field of international political economy. 1
Article
This paper focuses on the relationship between the way the discipline of International Relations (IR) is studied in the U.S. and U.S. foreign policy itself. Referring to the events of September 11 the paper argues that mainstream U.S. IR defines the appropriate methods of how to study international relations in such a narrow way as to restrict understanding of other cultures and rationalities. By relying on culturally and historically specific distinctions between politics and economics, between private and public, and between domestic and foreiggn policies, U.S. IR explains a narrow range of world political events and does so from a U.S. perspective. This makes it difficult to account for many of the most pressing inequalities in the world, and thus raises the question of the linkage between academia, the civil society in which it is located, and the role that it should serve in encouraging a wide debate on the motivations and views of those outside the U.S.
Article
Much thought has been put into developing rationales for the process-tracing method, but proponents of this narrative method have been agnostic about the criterial demands for ‘writing up’ a case study. This article addresses that lack through a double reading. First, I show that ‘good’ process-tracing prose mirrors a narrative voice found in Victorian fiction, most notably in George Eliot's Middlemarch. Then, in the second reading, I critique this narrative approach through a close reading of Middlemarch. In doing so, I explain how this style attempts (and ultimately fails) to mask its own pre-theoretical political commitments. For process-tracing to seem effective, its practitioners must turn a blind eye to the theoretical consequences of narrative style and must remain silent on the instability inherent in their prose.
Article
The study of international relations (IR) took an important disciplinary turn in the 1950s, when a number of scholars sought to develop a distinct theory of international politics. This turn, however, should not be understood as a tendency toward specialization, but rather as a separatist movement, meant to insulate the study of international politics from the behavioral revolution that was transforming the practice of political science in postwar America. Promoted by the Rockefeller Foundation, the “theorization” of IR encapsulated a very specific intellectual and ultimately political agenda at odds with the kind of liberalism dominant at the time.
Chapter
For centuries knowledge meant proven knowledge — proven either by the power of the intellect or by the evidence of the senses. Wisdom and intellectual integrity demanded that one must desist from unproven utterances and minimize, even in thought, the gap between speculation and established knowledge. The proving power of the intellect or the senses was questioned by the sceptics more than two thousand years ago; but they were browbeaten into confusion by the glory of Newtonian physics. Einstein’s results again turned the tables and now very few philosophers or scientists still think that scientific knowledge is, or can be, proven knowledge. But few realize that with this the whole classical structure of intellectual values falls in ruins and has to be replaced: one cannot simply water down the ideal of proven truth - as some logical empiricists do — to the ideal of’probable truth’1 or — as some sociologists of knowledge do — to ‘truth by [changing] consensus’.2
Article
Since the 1990s, international relations theory (IR) has supposedly been in the grip of a ‘Third Debate’, this time between positivism and postmodernism. While many have cast doubt as to whether this is in fact the case, and others have argued that it is time to move beyond it, it remains true to say that the issue of positivism vs postpositivism has occupied the minds of a number of academic analysts in recent years. This article takes the more radical position of questioning whether this epistemological debate — if, indeed, one accepts that there is one — has any real import in the sense of influencing the empirical research that IR scholars actually conduct. In short, whether one embraces a positivist or a postmodernist epistemology (for example) has little practical effect upon one's empirical findings. By extension, this argument suggests that the emphasis on the philosophical underpinnings of IR, while not necessarily misconceived in and of itself, has thus far not been central to what IR scholars actually do.