International Relations, Irrelevant? Don’t blame theory
Title: International Relations, Irrelevant? Don’t blame theory
Author: REUS-SMIT, Christian
Citation: Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2012, 40, 3, 525–540
ISSN: 0305-8298; 1477-9021
It is now commonplace to bemoan our field’s lack of practical relevance, and to blame this sorry situation on our penchant for ever-more abstract theorising over the analysis of real-world phenomena. This article challenges this rendition of the problem. Not only is the theory versus relevance thesis difficult to sustain empirically, there are good reasons to believe that even the most abstract forms of metatheory are relevant to sound practical knowledge. More than this, though, the theory versus relevance thesis misconstrues the problem. The obstacle to practical relevance is not theoretical abstraction, but a series of other disciplinary problems: our lack of any real interest in the nature of politics as a distinctive form of human action (which so animated early scholars in the field); the loss of the field’s early practical intent; the sadly too common bifurcation of explanatory and normative inquiry; and the disappearance of the figure of the international public intellectual.
Subject: International Relations as a realm of practical discourse; practical relevance; theory
First published online: June 2012
Files in this item
There are no files associated with this item.