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Poststructural Research in International Political Economy: Problematizing and Politicizing Agency, Structure, and Objectivity  

Joscha Wullweber

Poststructural research in International Political Economy (IPE) is a relatively young and growing field of studies that includes a variety of very diverse theories and approaches. These approaches to IPE emphasize the contingency of structures and meanings, and the struggles within the processes in which structures and objectivities are constructed. Poststructuralists argue that the subject is an inherent part of the structure. However, the fact that the structure itself is dislocated means that it is unable to completely determine the subject. From a poststructuralist perspective, it is not the absent structural identity, but the failed structural identity that renders the subject possible. Far from being relativist, the concept of contingency points to a structured uncertainty, that is, chance backed by force. Poststructural approaches aim at deconstructing ahistorical truth claims by exploring the processes of meaning-making and the various struggles for objectivity. Accordingly, they characterize the relation between state, economy, and society as a product of sedimentations arising from a series of social and political struggles. Relying on postpositivist methodology, poststructural approaches proceed on the assumption that meaning, truth, and facts are socially and politically constructed. For this reason, poststructural research has a special interest in studying the conflictual processes in which some meanings and truth claims prevail while others are rejected.