World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Postpositivism (international relations)

Article Id: WHEBN0024743160
Reproduction Date:

Title: Postpositivism (international relations)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: International Relations Theory, Constructivism (international relations), Critical international relations theory, Feminism (international relations), Neoclassical realism
Collection: International Relations Theory, Positivism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Postpositivism (international relations)

In international relations theory, postpositivism refers to theories of international relations which epistemologically reject positivism, the idea that the empiricist observation of the natural sciences can be applied to the social sciences.

Postpositivist (or reflectivist) theories of IR attempt to integrate a larger variety of security concerns. Supporters argue that if IR is the study of foreign affairs and relations, it ought to include non-state actors as well as the state. Instead of studying solely high politics of the state, IR ought to study world politics of the everyday world—which involves both high and low politics. Thus, issues such as gender (often in terms of feminism which generally holds salient the subordination of women to men—though newer feminisms allow for the reverse too) and ethnicity (such as stateless actors like the Kashmiris or Palestinians) can be problematized and made into an international security issue—supplanting (not replacing) the traditional IR concerns of diplomacy and outright war.

The postpositivist approach can be described as incredulity towards metanarratives—in IR, this would involve rejecting all-encompassing stories that claim to explain the international system. It argues that neither realism nor liberalism could be the full story. A postpositivist approach to IR does not claim to provide universal answers but seeks to ask questions instead. A key difference is that while positivist theories such as realism and liberalism highlight how power is exercised, postpositivist theories focus on how power is experienced resulting in a focus on both different subject matters and agents.

Often, postpositivist theories explicitly promote a normative approach to IR, by considering ethics. This is something which has often been ignored under traditional IR as positivist theories make a distinction between positive facts and normative judgements—whereas postpostivists argue that discourse is constitutive of reality; in other words, that it is impossible to be truly independent and factual as power-free knowledge cannot exist. (#)

Postpositivist theories do not attempt to be scientific or a social science. Instead, they attempt in-depth analysis of cases in order to "understand" international political phenomena by asking relevant questions to determine in what ways the status-quo promote certain power relations.

Further reading

  • Pettman, Ralph (2001): World Politics: Rationalism and Beyond, Palgrave, London and New York.

See also

References

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 



Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.