Critical Theory and the Inter-paradigm Debate

  • Mark Hoffman


International Relations as an academic discipline is at a major crossroads. Since it was first constituted as an academic discipline in the immediate aftermath of the First World War, International Relations has moved through a series of ‘debates’ with the result that in the course of its development, and as a consequence of these debates, International Relations theory has been undergoing constant change and modification. After moving through the debate between Idealism and Realism in the inter–war period, between Realism and Behaviouralism in the Great Debate of the 1960s, through to the complementary impact of Kuhn’s development of the idea of ‘paradigms’ and the post-Behavioural revolution of the early 1970s and on to the rise of International Political Economy and neo-Marxist, Structuralist dependency theory in the late 1970s and early 1980s, International Relations has arrived at a point that Banks has termed the ‘inter-paradigm debate’.1 The effect of this evolutionary process is contradictory. On the one hand, it makes the discipline exciting and alive because of the diversity of approaches, issues and questions within it, creating opportunities for research which would previously have been deemed to be outside the boundaries of the discipline. On the other hand, the lack of an agreed core to the subject has lead to confusion and a degree of intellectual insecurity.


International Relation Political Theory Critical Theory Traditional Theory World Order 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    See M. Banks, ‘The Inter-Paradigm Debate’ in M. Light and A.J.R. Groom (eds), International Relations: A Handbook of Current Theory ( London: Frances Pinter, 1985 ), pp. 7–26.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    R. Bernstein, The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory ( Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1976 ).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    M. Horkheimer, ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’, in Critical Theory: Selected Essays ( New York: Seabury Press, 1972 ).Google Scholar
  4. 21.
    V. Kubâlkovâ and A.A. Cruickshank, Marxism and International Relations ( London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985 ).Google Scholar
  5. 22.
    S. Brucan, The Dialectics of World Politics ( London: Macmillan, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  6. 23.
    E. Krippendorff, International Relations as a Social Science ( Brighton: Harvester Press, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    K. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA.: Addison-Wesley, 1979 ).Google Scholar
  8. 47.
    Herz, ‘Comment’, International Studies Quarterly (Vol. 25, No. 2, 1981 ), pp. 237–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 51.
    R.O. Keohane and J. Nye, Power and Interdependence (Boston, MA.: Little, Brown, 1977 ).Google Scholar
  10. 52.
    S. Krasner (ed), International Regimes ( New York: Syracuse University Press, 1983 ).Google Scholar
  11. 60.
    R. Coate and C. Murphy, ‘A Critical Science of Global Relations’, International Interaction (Vol. 12, No. 2 1985 ), pp. 109–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 62.
    C. Chase-Dunn, ‘Interstate System and Capitalist World Economy: One Logic or Two’, International Studies Quarterly (Vol. 25, No. 1, 1981 ), pp. 19–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 70.
    S. Wolin, ‘Paradigms and Political Theories’ in B.C. Parekh and P. King (eds), Politics and Experience ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Millennium: Journal of International Studies 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Hoffman

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations