Reassembling and Dissecting: International Relations Practice from a Science Studies Perspective
Title: Reassembling and Dissecting: International Relations Practice from a Science Studies Perspective
Citation: International Studies Perspectives, 2007, 8, 1, 90-110
What does it take to be an international relations (IR) scholar? IR discourses have tackled this question with focus on very different problems: the role and function of IR scholars for policy; the (ir)relevance and impact of IR knowledge and expertise in world politics; disciplinary history; or in studying IR's institutions. We argue that all these "disciplinary sociology" debates struggle with the relation between an internal scientific IR world and an external social context (policy, society). We reject this distinction and argue that science studies can help us to address these problems more adequately by treating IR as a scientific practice that is closely tied to its social environment. The article sets out to explore science studies' possible contributions. Based on science studies key assumptions, we develop a heuristic by which the relations between IR and its environment can be grasped systematically. From this perspective, IR is pivotally a culture constituted by different domains of practice. Hence, understanding IR scholars in "doing IR" requires taking into account their daily and sometimes trivial practices. For instance, writing an article in IR means much more than only thinking theoretically at a desk. We systematize the different domains of practices as the articulation of knowledge claims, mobilizing the world, autonomy seeking, alliance building, and public representation. "Being an IR scholar" and "producing IR knowledge" depends inevitably on these sets of practices and IR is intrinsically interwoven with its environment through these.
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