Andrew Bennett and Colin Elman
This article focuses on a third generation of qualitative methods research. Third-generation qualitative methods provide a unique bridge between the single-logic-of-inference and interpretivist communities. Accepting comparison and intuitive regression as part of its underlying justification, the third-generation case study approach is readily compatible with large-n studies, as well as being accepting of many of the claims of the comparative advantages offered by quantitative methods. The article considers some of the ways in which the third generation has developed and suggest potentially fruitful directions for future research. It focuses on some key innovations in third-generation qualitative methods over the last decade regarding within-case analysis, comparative case studies, case selection, concepts and measurement, counterfactual analysis, typological theorizing, and Fuzzy Set analysis. It concludes with a discussion of promising avenues for future developments in qualitative methods.
Janice Bially Mattern
Where there is politics there is power. It is no surprise, hence, that the concept of power is fundamental to the study of world politics. Power, or, more exactly, the particular way in which it is conceived at any given time, has been a significant constitutive force defining the discipline of international relations. As an ‘essentially contested concept’ whose meaning has broadened substantially over the years, the developments in conceptual thinking about power have progressively demanded acceptance of new empirical focuses, research methods, and normative logics into the lexicon of what counts as international relations. Contestation over the concept of power, thus, has helped broaden the discipline. And yet, if a broad discipline is desirable for the ‘engaged pluralism’ it facilitates, such benefits seem to have escaped international relations. In fact, international relations scholars have responded to the breadth of the discipline by narrowing both their views on power and their empirical, methodological, and normative schemas. The unfortunate result is that international relations is less a discipline than a collection of insular research communities; it is an (un)discipline. If international relations is to amount to more than a cacophony of disconnected views on world politics, these niches need to communicate.
This article examines the features that distinguish constructivism from other approaches to international relations and then looks at some controversies within constructivist scholarship today and between constructivists and others. The rise of the constructivist approach has encouraged new strands of empirical and philosophical research in international relations, and has led to interesting end problems at the boundary between constructivism and other approaches. Two strands of research, on the relations between strategic behaviour and international norms and between rationalism and constructivism, serve as examples of promising research in constructivist international relations theory.
Etel Solingen and Wilfred Wan
Historical institutionalism as an explicit tradition has largely remained on the sidelines in international security scholarship, with some exceptions. The chapter begins by reviewing the sources of resistance to the tradition in security studies. We then apply its analytical toolbox to two empirical realms at different levels of analysis: divergent regional security paths in East Asia and the Middle East; and the evolution of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. These cases show the utility of historical institutionalism in spanning sub-national, regional and international levels of analysis; its value for examining the role of critical junctures for evolving security arrangements; and its timely applicability beyond topical, geographical, and ontological foci that have been standard fare in security studies.
This article provides an overview of the most important elements of the critical theory of international relations. Any inquiry into critical international relations theory has to distinguish at least two central components. The first is the epistemological and methodological, what it says about theory; and the second is the normative and substantive, what it says about the world. In other words, ‘why do we study international relations and how do we study international relations’? The article demonstrates this by examining, first, the nature of the critical theory theoretical project and how it differs from and challenges mainstream conceptions of international relations; and secondly, the contributions that have been made by critical international relations theory so far. It begins with a brief discussion of the origins of critical theory and critical international relations theory before examining the major claims and achievements.
The Dialectics of Power and Powerlessness in Transnational Feminist Networks: Online Struggles Around Gender-based Violence
Priya Kurian, Debashish Munshi, and Anuradha Mundkur
Transnational feminist networks use the Internet to mobilize people and create spaces to debate global and local issues. Despite their successful use in feminist networking, they remain fraught spaces where global agendas may trump local articulations. This chapter explores the uses of virtual spaces by TFNs and local activists around violence against women, invoking notions of gendered citizenship and unearthing the dialectics of power and powerlessness among feminist activists. It studies the responses to violence against women by the UN Commission on the Status of Women and two TFNs: Women Living Under Muslim Law and 50 Million Missing. It relates this analysis to ideas of citizenship in social media postings on the gang-rape and murder of a young woman in India in 2012 and shows how diverse networks of women and men simultaneously negotiate the cultural politics of cyberspace alongside the place-based politics of gender and cultural violence.
Peter Katzenstein and Rudra Sil
This article calls for the accommodation of eclectic modes of scholarship in international relations that trespass deliberately and liberally across competing research traditions with the intention of defining and exploring substantive problems in original, creative ways. The article first outlines a pragmatist view of social knowledge in which intellectual progress is understood as expanding the possibilities for dialogue and creative experimentation. It elaborates on the definition of analytic eclecticism, identifying its distinctive characteristics and payoffs vis-à-vis those of preexisting research traditions. It then considers a small sample of scholarship in international relations that illustrates the meaning and value of analytical eclecticism with specific reference to issues of international security and political economy. It concludes that alongside, and in dialogue with scholarship produced in specific research traditions, analytic eclecticism is a necessary and valuable asset in enabling the discipline of international relations to evolve beyond recurrent metatheoretical debates and to hold forth some promise for having meaningful practical significance beyond the academe.
International relations is no longer an American social science: the subject is taught in universities in dozens of countries and is becoming a global discipline. The English School of international relations is the oldest and arguably the most significant rival to the American mainstream. The English School purports to offer an account of international relations that combines theory and history, morality and power, agency and structure. One obvious consequence of this level of theoretical ambition is that the boundaries of the English School often appear to be unclear, which in part explains the ongoing debate about who belongs in the School and how it differs from other theoretical accounts of world politics. To shed light on these questions, Section 1 of this article considers in more depth the contextual emergence of the English School, and in particular its determination to develop an original account of interstate order. Section 2 takes its central claim — that the practice of states is shaped by international norms, regulated by international institutions, and guided by moral purposes — and explores this in relation to the countervailing forces of the states system and world society. In Section 3 the focus shifts away from debates inside the English School and toward a wider reflection on its place within international relations as a whole. It is argued that while the English School has a great deal to learn from constructivism, it should maintain its distinctive voice primarily because it has greater synthetic potential and is more openly committed to certain ethical standpoints.
Iver B. Neumann and Ole Jacob Sending
The relationship between the study and practice of security has not only changed considerably over the last 20 years, but has also become more varied, where ever more actors perform ever more specialized tasks of both analyzing and providing security. Once dominated by a principle of segmentary (territorially delimited) differentiation, we argue that the relative strength of the national framing has declined and that functional differentiation has increased over the last three decades, resulting in transnationalization in what is increasingly a market for security expertise and a proliferation of types of actors engaged in knowledge production surrounding security (e.g. International Crisis Group) as well as the practice of security. Resulting from this proliferation, there will be category-defying practices of security, for example the move toward “hybrid warfare” and in the realm of cyber security.
The perennial difficulty in the study of international relations is that general theories holding statically over time are unsatisfactory. The leading theories — emphasizing a single concept (‘realism’, ‘constructivism’, ‘liberalism’, and so on) — themselves either are unfalsifiable, or if falsifiable, are false. Both international and domestic factors have to be taken into account in order to develop a reasonable static approach to how nations behave. A three-variable conspectus that comprises: international restraints and availabilities; leadership preconceptions; and domestic restraints and pressures can explain international outcomes more fully than any of these variables taken individually. A regression equation, in short, is necessary. The coefficients of this equation, however, may have changed over time, with international coefficients having less strength than they once did and domestic ones more strength. These claims are elaborated in the first half of this article. The second half concentrates on some dynamic features of the international system that point to the possibility of different and more cooperative outcomes in the years ahead as the influence and content of these factors undergo change.
This article examines some of the principle tensions, but also compatibilities, between the study of international relations and feminism. It also reviews briefly some of the main points of debate and controversy within feminist thinking, and the ways in which feminist insights have been taken up by global actors in world politics, such as the United Nations. Much of the discussion of feminism and international relations has usefully focused on the ways in which mainstream accounts of international relations ignore its impact on gender and/or make invisible the kinds of contributions that feminist analyses can bring to processes of international relations. The article goes in a somewhat different direction by examining the ways in which ‘gender’ does circulate globally, and the ways in which gender has obtained something of a worldwide currency, especially in (but not limited to) questions of peace, violence, and conflict.
Douglas T. Stuart
This article begins with some background information on the development of the subfield of foreign-policy decision-making, with a particular emphasis on why and how this subfield took root in the United States in the interwar period. It then surveys some of the important orienting statements by pioneers in the subfield of foreign-policy decision-making. Next, it focuses on the independent, intervening, and dependent variables that have received most of the scholarly attention over the last five decades. It concludes with some comments on the state of the subfield today, and the challenges and opportunities that are likely to confront students of foreign-policy decision-making during the next few years.
Michael N. Barnett and Kathryn Sikkink
Historically speaking, the study of international relations has largely concerned the study of states and the effects of anarchy on their foreign policies, the patterns of their interactions, and the organization of world politics. However, over the last several decades, the discipline as begun moving away from the study of ‘international relations’ and toward the study of ‘global society’. This shift from ‘international relations’ to ‘global society’ is reflective of several important developments that are the focus of this article. The article begins with a discussion of the anarchy thematic and what John Agnew (1994) has called ‘the territorial trap’, and surveys some of the critical forces that compelled international relations scholars to free themselves from this trap. It then explores the shifts in the what, who, how, and why of the study of international relations. It considers the terminological shift from the study of international governance to the study of global governance, justified because the purposes of global governance no longer reflect solely the interests of states but now also include other actors, including international organizations, transnational corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and new kinds of networks.
Research into both international and intellectual history has flourished in recent times. This article highlights a number of recent contributions, paying particular attention to the relationship between history, theory, and method. The article is organized into five distinct sections. The first section offers a brief sketch of the vagaries of history as a field of study. The second section is concerned with the search for universal models, and the relationship between rationalist theories, radical simplification, and international history. The third section is concerned with critical responses to the historical limitations of radical simplification, and allied attempts to come to terms with questions of contingency and complexity. The fourth section explores more recent developments in rationalist theory. Using innovations in realist theory as an explicatory focal point, it examines a number of recent contributions that have placed rationalist approaches on a stronger historical footing. The main focus throughout this discussion is the origin and operation of the state system, which has long been a premier site for historical inquiry in international relations circles. The final section takes up the parallel field of intellectual history, exploring how recent works on the history of ideas have been shaped around contemporary agendas.
Andrew H. Kydd
This article discusses the concept of methodological individualism and rational choice (MIRC). MIRC strives to explain international events by positing individuals, states, or substate actors, with fixed preferences and identities, who rationally adjust their beliefs and strategies in response to the information they receive and the strategies pursued by other actors. MIRC derives tremendous legitimacy from its relationship to the two strongest belief structures in the world today, liberalism in the normative sphere and science in the positive sphere. It draws further strength because it presents a unified (at the level of assumptions) body of theory that can be generalized and extended to new issue areas with relative ease. Ironically, for a scientific movement, it is on weakest grounds empirically; confirmation of its findings has been difficult. However, nontrivial empirical regularities have proved very difficult to find for any theory in international relations; typically the more precise and falsifiable the theory, the more resoundingly falsified it is. Given the difficulty in establishing robust law-like findings in international relations, strong theoretical frameworks such as MIRC will continue to be useful in the discipline.
Recent advances in economics stress the need to control for multilateral resistance or country-level unobservables that may affect trade in gravity model estimations. The interpretation of coefficients when controlling for multilateral resistance is different than when dyadic and year fixed effects are included. While country-year dummies do control for multilateral resistance, the number needed in most models exceeds computing capacity, and alternative methods have been devised. These models can only answer whether trade between GATT members increased more than their trade with non-GATT members. Models that include dyadic and year fixed effects can answer whether institutions were trade-creating and trade-diverting as well as the relative effects of trade creation and trade diversion. But the effects of institutions will probably be overestimated. This chapter compares the results of several methods to control for multilateral resistance by examining the GATT/WTO’s effects on trade using real-world data.
Constructivists employ a characteristic set of mainly qualitative methods in their work on international security. Over time, they have come—theoretically—to focus centrally on process; this has put a premium on methods that can capture and measure it. In early constructivist work, methods were not a high priority—but this has changed for the better. Unfortunately for these scholars, the social science world around them has not stood still. A revolution in qualitative methods means that constructivist students of international security will—methodologically—need in the future “to run harder simply to stay in place.”
Mark B. Salter and Can E. Mutlu
To represent the plurality of methods used within the Critical Studies Security community, this chapter surveys discourse analysis, corporeal analysis, ethnographic research, new materialism, and field analysis. Separating these practical methods from their ontological stakes makes critical analysis mutually intelligible and fosters a collobarative and plural discussion that shies away from doctrinaire orthodoxy. As a guide for analysis, this chapter also sets out some consensus positions about basic methods that are used in this field that critical scholars share and use in different theoretical traditions for their research design: idetifying standards of clarity, fit, and reflexivity by which critical scholarship can be judged, not on its ethical claims or its take on criticality, but rather on grounds of rigor.
Arthur A. Stein
International politics today is as much institutional as intergovernmental. International institutions can be found in every functional domain and in every region in the world. Modern reality consists of an alphabet soup of institutions which includes the United Nations (UN), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This article argues that disagreement about definitions, about how old or new the phenomenon, and about its exact impact cannot mask the reality of a growing number and the role of international institutions. How much and how adequately these institutions of international governance tame anarchy is open to question, but the world is witnessing an increase in supranational governance, created by states and in which states increasingly live. Understanding and explaining international politics increasingly requires incorporating the role of international institutions. Scholarship on international institutions is growing and developing commensurately.
This article presents three core theoretical assumptions underlying liberal theories, elaborates the three variants of liberal theory, and draws some broader implications. Liberal international relations theory's fundamental premise — state preferences derived from the domestic and transnational social pressures critically influence state behaviour — can be restated in terms of three core assumptions: the nature of societal actors: globalization generates differentiated demands from societal individuals and groups with regard to international affairs; the nature of the state: states represent the demands of a subset of domestic individuals and social groups, on the basis of whose interests they define ‘state preferences’ and act instrumentally to manage globalization; the nature of the international system: the pattern of interdependence among state preferences shapes state behaviour. Perhaps the most important advantage of liberal theory lies in its capacity to serve as the theoretical foundation for a shared multicausal model of instrumental state behaviour — thereby moving the discipline beyond paradigmatic warfare among unicausal claims.