In his 1985 survey of the Australian study of international relations, Martin Indyk concluded that 'in the harsh international climate of the 1980s it is hard to envisage that anything but Realism, with the occasional Rationalist bloom to relieve the sense of gloom, will thrive in Australia' (Indyk 1985:300). The terrain of intellectual debate would remain confined, as it had been for most of the post-1945 period, to disagreements between those who stressed the ubiquitous struggle for power among states and those who believed that states formed an international society, compelled by common interests and bound by rules and institutions. 1 While acknowledging that this realist–rationalist condominium had produced significant insights into international relations, Indyk (1985:301) asked whether it had 'provided a basis for accurately analysing international conflict' or 'illuminated the opportunities for Australia in world politics'. His answer (Indyk 1985:301) was not encouraging:
we are still very much in the dark about much of what constitutes world politics. And this must raise doubts about the adequacy of the Australian school's world view and level of analysis.
Like many of the predictions made by international-relations scholars during the 1980s, Indyk's have proven mistaken. In the past two decades there has been a dramatic shift in the study of international relations in Australia, to the point where realist and rationalist works are but two features in a more pluralist and variegated intellectual landscape – a landscape that now includes established bodies of critical theory, constructivism, feminism, and normative scholarship. This has left Australian scholars far better equipped to understand the complexities not only of international relations, narrowly defined, but also of the wider complex of world politics in which such relations are embedded. The story is not all good news, though. As the general study of international relations in Australia has broadened and diversified, the study of Australian foreign policy has languished. With some notable exceptions, established commentators have shifted their focus to other aspects of international relations, and the new generation of theorists and generalists have shown little interest in the subject, isolating it from the rich intellectual resources they have mobilised.
This chapter explains the nature and development of international relations as a social science in Australia since the mid-1980s. 2 After briefly characterising the field