Civilizational analysis in international relations : mapping the field and advancing a “civilizational politics” line of research
Title: Civilizational analysis in international relations : mapping the field and advancing a “civilizational politics” line of research
Author: BETTIZA, Gregorio
Citation: International Studies Review, 2014, Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 1-28
This article maps and develops—theoretically and empirically—the field of civilizational analysis in international relations (IR). In particular, it teases out a more explicit “civilizational politics” line of research, which builds upon latent and underdeveloped themes in the civilizational turn in IR. “Civilizational politics” offers an avenue for theoretically inclined, empirically minded scholars to explore how social and political actors have come to understand, change, and construct world politics as if plural civilizations existed and their relations mattered. The article anchors “civilizational politics” research to a modernist-constructivist approach to IR and structures it around two key steps. The first step is to recover and interpret subjective and intersubjective meanings through participants' discourse. The article proposes an understanding of civilizations as “imagined communities” narrated by political and intellectual elites: as essentialized or non-essentialized entities; and as clashing/conflicting or dialoguing/engaging with each other. The second step outlines three causal pathways that explain how narrated civilizational imaginaries affect world politics and turn civilizations into social facts: by guiding and structuring social action; by shaping and becoming embedded in formal institutions and patterned practices; and by bestowing recognition and socially empowering actors claiming to speak for civilizations. The empirical import of a “civilizational politics” line of research is demonstrated through a re-reading of Turan Kayaoglu's article “Constructing the Dialogue of Civilizations in World Politics: A Case of Global Islamic Activism.
Article first published online: 10 JAN 2014
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