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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

It was not until the late 1980s when social constructivism gradually entered the stage that International Relations (IR) scholars started paying attention to communicative action. Today, this picture has changed dramatically and there is no IR textbook which does not cover “discourse” or “discourse theory.” This chapter concentrates on deliberation, arguing, and communicative action in a Habermasian sense. I start with a controversy in the German IR journal Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, which concentrated on the extent to which Habermas’s theory of communicative action could be made fruitful for the study of international relations, namely diplomacy and negotiations. I then discuss the state of the art with regard to the empirical evaluation of Habermasian assumptions. Scholarship not only demonstrated that arguing matters in global affairs, but discerned the (institutional) scope conditions under which deliberation affects negotiation outcomes. The chapter concludes with some thoughts on the normative implications for global governance.

Keywords: communicative action, international relations, Habermas and world politics, social constructivism, sociological institutionalism, scope conditions for arguing

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