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History and Structure in the Theory of International Relations (1989)

  • R. B. J. Walker

Abstract

The explanation of social and political life is a notoriously contentious enterprise, and the Anglo — American discipline of international relations is no exception to the general rule. As with so many other disciplines that have been shaped by the broader ambitions of post-war social science, controversy has occurred largely on the terrain of epistemology. All too often, the more far-reaching epistemological problems, posed by those who seek to understand what is involved in making knowledge claims about social and political processes, have been pushed aside in favor of more restricted concerns about method and research techniques. Narrowing the range of potential dispute in this manner has undoubtedly enhanced an appearance of professional solidarity. But it has also obscured many of the more troublesome and, in my view, more important fractures visible to anyone now canvassing contemporary debates about the general nature and possibility of social and political enquiry.

Keywords

International Relation Political Theory Political Community Political Life World Politics 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    R. B. J. Walker, State Sovereignty, Global Civilisation and the Rearticulation of Political Space (Princeton: Center of International Studies, Princeton University, World Order Studies Program, Occasional Paper, 8, 1988) and R. B. J. Walker, ‘Ethics, Modernity and the Theory of International Relations,’ paper presented at the Conference on New Directions in International Relations: Implications for Australia, Australian National University (Canberra, 15–17 February 1989).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Robert O. Keoliane, ‘International Institutions: Two Approaches’, International Studies Quarterly 32 (4) (December 1988), pp. 379–396 (see chapter 11 in this volume). See also Robert O. Keohane (ed.), Neorealism and its Critics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Typical discussions include Richard J. Bernstein, The Restructuring of Social and Political Theory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1976)Google Scholar
  4. Brian Fay, Critical Social Science (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  5. John G. Gunnell, Between Philosophy and Politics: The Alienation of Political Theory (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1986)Google Scholar
  6. William E. Connolly, Political Theory and Modernity (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1988).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    The main papers from this debate were collected in Klaus Knorr and James N. Rosenau (eds.), Contending Approaches to International Politics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society (London: Macmillan, 1977). Cf., Friedrich N. Kratochwil, Rules, Norms and Decisions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Richard K. Ashley, ‘Living on Border Lines: Man, Post-Structuralism and War,’ in James Der Derian and Michael Shapiro (eds.), International/Intertextual Relations: The Boundaries of Knowledge and Practice in World Politics (Lexington: Lexington Books, 1989)Google Scholar
  10. Richard K. Ashley, ‘The Geopolitics of Geopolitical Space’, Alternatives, 12 (October 1987)Google Scholar
  11. Richard K. Ashley, ‘Untying the Sovereign State: A Double Reading of the Anarchy Problematique,’ Millennium 17 (2), (Summer 1988).Google Scholar
  12. 6.
    The most instructive formulations of the realist — idealist distinction remain E. H. Carr, The Twenty Years Crisis, 1919–1939, 2nd edn (London: Macmillan, 1946)Google Scholar
  13. Hans J. Morgenthau, Scientific Man Vs. Power Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1946). They are especially instructive when read not as founding texts of the theory of international relations but as belated formulations of dilemmas associated with early twentieth-century German historicism as these dilemmas were mediated through the work of Karl Mannheim and Max Weber. See, e.g., Stephen P. Turner and Regis A. Factor, Max Weber and the Dispute over Reason and Value (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984).Google Scholar
  14. 7.
    See, e.g., the relatively accessible discussions in R. J. Holton, The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism (London: Macmillan, 1985) and Michael Mann, The Sources of Social Power, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  15. 9.
    Robert Gilpin, The Political Economy of International Relations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  16. Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts of Comparative Analysis’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 16 (4), (September 1974)Google Scholar
  17. Robert W. Cox, Production, Power and World Order: Social Forces in the Making of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987)Google Scholar
  18. Stephen Gill and David Law, The Global Political Economy: Perspectives, Problems and Policies (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  19. 10.
    See the important analysis in Friedrich Kratochwil and John Gerald Ruggie, ‘International Organizations: A State of the Art on an Art of the State’, International Organization 40 (4) (Autumn, 1986).Google Scholar
  20. 11.
    For a more extended discussion are R. B. J. Walker ‘Realism, Chance and International Political Theory’, International Studies Quarterly, 31 (1) (March 1987); and ‘The Territorial State and the Theme of Gulliver’, International Journal, 39 (Summer 1984).Google Scholar
  21. 12.
    In international relations the adequacy of these images become especially important in the literature on systems analysis. For a helpful discussion see Richard Little, ‘Three Approaches to the International System: Some Ontological and Epistemological Considerations’, British Journal of International Studies 3 (1), (October 1977).Google Scholar
  22. 13.
    On this theme see especially Der Derian and Shapiro (eds.), International/Intertextual Relations, and Michael Shapiro, The Politics of Representation (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1988).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Millennium Journal of International Studies 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. B. J. Walker

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