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date: 23 April 2024

Historical Sociology and International Relationslocked

Historical Sociology and International Relationslocked

  • Yannis A. StivachtisYannis A. StivachtisCollege of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, Virginia Tech


An International Relations (IR) approach rooted in history and sociology can provide an understanding of global transformations. The origin of Historical Sociology (HS) can be traced back to the Enlightenment and the belief that it was possible to improve the human condition by unmaking and remaking human institutions. By the nineteenth century, there was an awareness that social changes were taking place within societies as the result of industrialization and extensive systemic analysis started to take place in an effort to understand this process. However, a major intellectual gap existed between IR, which studies relations between states, and sociology, which studies social behavior within states. Much of contemporary IR views historical analysis as unnecessary to the subject matter of the discipline. From the perspective of a critical HS, mainstream IR appears caught within two modes of ahistoricism: “chronofetishism” and “tempocentricism.” HS also reveals five basic tempocentric” biases widely held in mainstream IR: problematizing the notion of “like-units under anarchy; problematizing the notion of a “distinct self-constituting” international realm; problematizing the sovereign spatial differentiation between units; problematizing anarchy as a “differential” structure; and problematizing “inter-systemic” and “inter-societal” relations. Ultimately, there are nine major historical sociological approaches in international relations: Neo-Weberian historical sociology, constructivist historical sociology, neoclassical world systems historical sociology, critical historical materialist historical sociology, critical historical sociology, postmodern historical sociology, structural realist historical sociology in international relations, English school historical sociology, and feminist historical sociology.


  • International Relations Theory

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