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Introduction: Diversity and Disciplinarity in International Relations Theory by Steve Smith

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Appreciate the importance of theory in understanding world politics ... theoretical points of views see' the same world of international politics ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction: Diversity and Disciplinarity in International Relations Theory by Steve Smith


1
Introduction Diversity and Disciplinarity in
International Relations Theoryby Steve Smith
  • International Relations Theories Discipline and
    Diversity

2
Learning outcomes
  • After this lecture you should be able to
  • Appreciate the importance of theory in
    understanding world politics
  • Have a basic understanding of the key
    theoretical positions in IR
  • Recognise the importance of pluralistic
    understandings of the theoretical field in IR

3
Importance of theory
  • It is difficult to know what really motivates
    decision-makers or what brought about certain
    world political events or
  • processes. In evaluating possible
  • motivations and explanations we are
  • inevitably led into the realm of theory
  • Different theoretical systems can lead us to
    focus on different aspects of world political
    problems and to see world politics in very
    different ways

?
4
Key positions in IR
  • Classical theoretical positions in IR
  • Realism and liberalism
  • Neorealism and neoliberalism
  • Marxism
  • However, classical representations of central
    IR theories can be problematic in that
  • they can provide a narrow view of the realm of
    international relations (equating it with
    inter-state relations)
  • they tend to assume that different theoretical
    points of views see the same world of
    international politics

5
Rationalism and beyond
  • The so-called rationalists and reflectivists in
    the discipline disagree on how best to gain
    knowledge about world politics
  • Rationalism vs.
    Reflectivism
  • Rationalists tend to be foundationalist and
    positivist. They may marginalise reflectivist,
    non-positivist approaches to world politics
  • However, students of the discipline need to
    appreciate that there are many theories outside
    of the mainstream approaches that need to be
    reckoned with

6
Pluralism in IR
  • Recognising theoretical pluralism in IR is
    important for
  • opening up debates in the discipline
  • legitimising new approaches
  • bringing IR closer to other social science
    disciplines

7
Shared elements
  • Despite their disagreements the theories in IR
    share certain things, for example
  • Belief in the centrality of theory
  • Appreciation of different historical background
    of theories
  • Each holds a position on the theory-practice
    relationship

8
Consequences of pluralism
  • Plurality of theories presents two problems
  • 1) whether there can be said to be a discipline
    of IR at all
  • 2) how one should choose between the theories

9
Conclusion
  • Students must come to their own judgements on
    these questions. In making informed and
    reflective judgements on questions such as these,
    it is important that students work with as
    pluralistic a view of the discipline as is
    possible
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