European Approaches to International Relations Theory: A House with Many Mansions

European Approaches to International Relations Theory: A House with Many Mansions

European Approaches to International Relations Theory: A House with Many Mansions

European Approaches to International Relations Theory: A House with Many Mansions

Synopsis

A well-established community of American scholars has long dominated the discipline of international relations. Recently, however, certain strands of continental theorizing are being introduced into the mainstream. Thisnbsp;is a critical examination of European approaches to international relations theory, suggesting practical ways of challenging manistream thought. Freidrichs presents a detailed sociological analysis of knowledge production in existing European IR communities, namely France, Italy and Scandinavia. He also discusses a selection of European schools and approaches.

Excerpt

It has become almost a cliché to argue that during the course of the twentieth century the study of International Relations developed into a quintessentially American discipline. Although the Department of International Politics in the University of Wales at Aberystwyth claims, with some justification, to be the first institution to be given a specific brief to study IR, from the perspective of the prevailing historiography of the discipline, this fact can only be treated as a quaint anomaly. What any serious survey reveals is that the study of IR, certainly after the Second World War, came to be dominated by scholars who operated within academic institutions located inside the borders of the United States.

On the face if it, this might not seem to be a particularly significant or revealing insight. After all, most research, in most disciplines, is carried out within the United States. It is simply a fact of life that during the course of the twentieth century the USA was able to devote more resources to research than any other country in the world. As a consequence, it was able to establish the necessary critical mass in large numbers of fields to set the research agenda and to be at the cutting edge of research developments. This general assessment, however, has always been more valid in the natural sciences than in the arts and social sciences, where nationally oriented research agendas were already deeply entrenched before the start of the twentieth century and where indigenous national researchers still often have natural advantages over outsiders.

It might seem self-evident, therefore, that International Relations, of all subjects, should be able to hold its own against the intellectual dominance of the USA. All states occupy a unique position within the international system and might be expected to have a distinctive research agenda that represents their particular perspective on International Relations. In fact, there is remarkably little general understanding of how IR is studied around the world, and so it is hardly surprising that there has been so little progress made in developing cross-national research frameworks for thinking about IR and to challenge the theories of IR that emanate from the USA.

There is, nevertheless, a good, albeit obvious, reason why researchers who study International Relations outside of the USA are often sensitive about the dominance of Americans within their discipline; it is because their subject matter is also dominated by the USA. By the end of the nineteenth century, it had become the

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