From Expert Communities to Epistemic Arrangements: Situating Expertise in International Relations

  • Christian Bueger
Part of the Global Power Shift book series (GLOBAL)


The role and functions of expertise in international politics is, since decades, a core research theme. This chapter outlines a history of how the relation between science and international politics has been approached through the lenses of expertise. My intention is to offer a heuristic device. I argue that the debate can be structured in three generations. A first generation is interested in experts as actors that have a causal influence on international politics. The second generation scrutinizes discourses of expertise and their constitutional role in making the international. And the third generation concentrates on practices of expertise and the way these perform the epistemic arrangements of the international. To think about the study of expertise in the frame of three generations each offering different insights and carrying advantages and problems provides not only a practical tool for sorting ideas, but clarifies what one ‘buys in’ by following a specific generation.


Expertise Epistemic communities Discourse theory Practice theory Sociology of the discipline of international relations 



For discussions and comments which have informed and improved this chapter I am grateful to Maximilian Mayer and Trine Villumsen Berling. Research for this article has been supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/K008358/1].


  1. Acuto, M., & Curtis, S. (Eds.). (2014). Re-assembling international theory. Assemblage thinking and international relations. Basingstroke: Palgrave MacMillan.Google Scholar
  2. Adler, E., & Bernstein, S. (2005). Knowledge in power: The epistemic construction of global governance. In M. Barnett & R. Duvall (Eds.), Power in global governance (pp. 294–318). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Adler, E., & Haas, P. M. (1992). Epistemic communities, world order, and the creation of a reflective research program. International Organization, 46(1), 367–390.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Adler, E., & Pouliot, V. (2011). International practices. International Theory, 3(1), 1–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Antoniades, A. (2003). Epistemic communities, epistemes and the construction of (world)politics. Global Society, 17(1), 21–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Ashley, R. K. (1987). The geopolitics of geopolitical space: Toward a critical social theory of international politics. Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 12(4), 403–434.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ashley, R. K., & Walker, R. B. J. (Eds.) (1990). Speaking the language of exile. Dissidence in International studies. Special Issue of International Studies Quarterly 34 (3).Google Scholar
  8. Berling, T. V. (2011). Science and securitization: Objectivation, the authority of the speaker and mobilization of scientific facts. Security Dialogue, 42(4–5), 385–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Berling, T. V. (2012). Bourdieu, international relations, and European security. Theory and Society, 41(5), 451–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Best, J., & Walters E, (Eds.) (2013). Forum on “Actor-Network Theory” and international relationality: lost (and found) in Translation, International Political Sociology 7(3).Google Scholar
  11. Bigo, D. (2008). The emergence of a consensus: Global terrorism, global insecurity, and global security. In A. C. D’Appollonia & S. Reich (Eds.), Immigration, integration and security: America and Europe in comparative perspective (pp. 67–94). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
  12. Brown, M. B. (2009). Science in democracy: Expertise, institutions, and representation. Cambridge: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Bueger, C. (2014). Making Things Known: Epistemic Practice, the United Nations and the Translation of Piracy, mimeo, Cardiff: Cardiff University.Google Scholar
  14. Bueger, C., & Bethke, F. (2014, January 18). Actor-networking the failed state: An enquiry into the life of concepts. Journal of International Relations and Development, advance online publication. 17(1): 30–60 doi: 10.1057/jird.2012.30.
  15. Bueger, C., & Gadinger, F. (2007). Reassembling and dissecting: International relations practice from a science studies perspective. International Studies Perspectives, 8(1), 90–110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Bueger, C., & Gadinger, F. (2014). The play of international practice. Minimalism, pragmatism and critical theory. International Studies Quarterly, forthcoming.Google Scholar
  17. Bueger, C., & Villumsen, T. (2007). Beyond the gap: Relevance, fields of practice and the securitizing consequences of (democratic peace) research. Journal of International Relations and Development, 10(4), 417–448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Callon, M. (2007). What does it mean to say that economics is performative? In D. MacKenzie, F. Muniesa, & L. Siu (Eds.), Do economists make markets? On the performativity of economics (pp. 311–357). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Campbell, D. (1992). Writing security: United States foreign policy and the politics of identity. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  20. Collins, H. M., & Evans, R. (2002). The third wave of science studies: Studies of expertise and experience. Social Studies of Science, 32(2), 235–295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Cross, M. K. D. (2012). Rethinking epistemic communities twenty years later. Review of International Studies, 39(1), 137–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Eriksson, J., & Sundelius, B. (2005). Molding minds that form policy: How to make research useful. International Studies Perspectives, 6(1), 51–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fougner, T. (2008). Neoliberal governance of states: The role of competitiveness indexing and country benchmarking. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 37(2), 303–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. George, J., & Campbell, D. (1990). Patterns of dissent and the celebration of difference: Critical social theory and international relations. International Studies Quarterly, 34(3), 269–293.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Haas, E. B. (1964). Beyond the nation-state: Functionalism and international organization. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Haas, E. B. (1990). When knowledge is power. Three models of change in International Organizations. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  27. Haas, P. M. (1992a). Introduction: Epistemic communities and international policy coordination. International Organization, 46(1), 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Haas, P. M. (Ed.) (1992a). Knowledge, power, and international policy coordination. Special Issue of International Organization 46 (1).Google Scholar
  29. Haas, P. M., & Haas, E. B. (2002). Pragmatic constructivism and the study of international institutions. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 31(3), 573–601.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Haas, E. B., Williams, M. P., & Babai, D. (1977). Scientists and world order: The uses of technical knowledge in international organizations. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  31. Hagmann, J., & Cavelty, M. D. (2012). National risk registers: Security scientism and the propagation of permanent insecurity. Security Dialogue, 43(1), 79–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hansen, L. (2006). Security as practice. Discourse analysis and the Bosnian War. Milton Park and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  33. Howland, D. (2014). Telegraph technology and administrative internationalism in the 19th century. In M. Mayer, M. Carpes, & R. Knoblich (Eds.), The global politics of science and technology. Heidelberg: Springer.Google Scholar
  34. Huysmans, J. (2006). The politics of insecurity. Fear, migration and asylum in the EU. Milton Park: Routledge.Google Scholar
  35. Jackson, P. T. (2008). Foregrounding ontology: Dualism, monism, and IR theory. Review of International Studies, 34(1), 129–153.Google Scholar
  36. Jacobs, L. R., & Benjamin, I. P. (2005). Who influences U.S. foreign policy? American Political Science Review, 99(1), 107–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Jaeger, H.-M. (2010). UN reform, biopolitics, and global governmentality. International Theory, 2(1), 50–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Kaufmann, C. (2004). Threat inflation and the failure of the marketplace of ideas. International Security, 29(1), 5–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kennedy, D. (2001). The politics of invisible college: International Governance and the politics of expertise. European Human Rights Law Review, 5, 463–497.Google Scholar
  40. Klein, B. S. (1994). Strategic studies and world order: The global politics of deterrence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Leander, A., & van Munster, R. (2007). Private security contractors in the debate about darfur: Reflecting and reinforcing neo-liberal governmentality. International Relations, 21(2), 201–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Lidskog, R., & Sundqvist, G. R. (2002). The role of science in environmental regimes: The case of LRTAP. European Journal of International Relations, 8(1), 77–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Litfin, K. (1995). Framing science: Precautionary discourse and the ozone treaties. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 24(2), 251–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Mallin, M., & Latham, R. (2001). The public relevance of international security research in an era of globalism. International Studies Perspectives, 2(2), 221–230.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mayer, M. (2012). Chaotic climate change and security. International Political Sociology, 6, 165–185.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mitrany, D. (1943). A working peace system. London: Royal Institute of International Affairs.Google Scholar
  47. Nincic, M., & Lepgold, J. (2000). Being useful. Policy relevance and international relations theory. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  48. Pielke, R. A., Jr. (2007). The honest broker. Making sense of science in politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Porter, T. (2012). Making serious measures: Numerical indices, peer review, and transnational actor-networks. Journal of International Relations and Development, 15, 532–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rouse, J. (1996). Engaging science. How to understand its practices philosophically. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Ruggie, J. G. & Haas, E. B. (Eds.) (1975). International responses to technology. Special Issue of International Organization 29 (3).Google Scholar
  52. Slaughter, A.-M. (2004). A new world order. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  53. Smith, S. (2004). Singing our world into existence: International relations theory and september 11. Presidential address to the international studies association, February 27, 2003, Portland, OR. International Studies Quarterly 48: 499–515.Google Scholar
  54. Sokhi-Bulley, B. (2011a). Governing (through) rights: Statistics as technologies of governmentality. Social & Legal Studies, 20(2), 139–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Sokhi-Bulley, B. (2011b). Government(ality) by experts: Human rights as governance. Law and Critique, 22(3), 251–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Toke, D. (1999). Epistemic communities and environmental groups. Politics, 19(2), 97–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Turner, S.P. (2003). Liberal democracy 3.0 civil society in an age of experts. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  58. Walker, R. B. J. (1993). Inside/outside: International relations as political theory. Cambridge studies in international relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cardiff UniversityCardiffUK

Personalised recommendations