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Article

A significant development in the history of international relations (IR) is the increased focus on historiographical issues. Prior to 1998, the literature had, for the most part, failed to address adequately the question of how to write a history of the field. The tendency was to describe the history of IR as if a complete consensus existed on the essential dimensions of the field’s evolution. However, during the past 10 years (1998–2008) a wealth of new literature has appeared that greatly challenges much of the conventional wisdom regarding the development of IR. Three main thematic issues have been prominent in the literature. The first theme concerns the status of IR as an academic field or discipline. For various reasons, there has been a repeated questioning of whether IR is in fact a distinctive discipline. A second theme is the issue of whether the boundaries of IR should be demarcated in terms of one particular country (the United States) or whether it should be viewed as a more cosmopolitan endeavor without regard to national differences. The third theme involves the historiographical debate about whether the evolution of the field is best explained in terms of exogenous events in the realm of international politics or by endogenous factors associated with the institutional setting of the field.

Article

Heidi H. Hobbs, Harry I. Chernotsky, and Darin H. Van Tassell

International Studies majors evolved as a reflection of broader trends toward internationalizing higher education in the United States. However, International Studies has historically lacked an integrative framework. In particular, it has been described as approximating “all things international” and the point at which multiple disciplines converge. This variation and lack of identity have resulted in the random ways International Studies programs have developed in terms of their core curricula, faculty, and variety of institutional homes. The search for an International Studies paradigm that can unite the various disciplines comprising the field has spawned a debate over globalization between the so-called hyperglobalizers, who emphasize the progressive erosion of the borders that have differentiated national economies and sustained the centrality of nation-states, and their critics, who point to the resilience and political endurance of the nation-state system and the continuing capacity of states to regulate the global economy. Another view, representing the third wave of globalization theory, suggests that globalization is an extremely complex phenomenon. One key element that should frame International Studies curricula is to foster an understanding of the multiple perspectives guiding perceptions and visions across the world. The core curriculum should adress the following issues: political awareness, economic understanding, cultural competency, international cooperation, and global citizenship.

Article

Amentahru Wahlrab

A review of introductory international relations, international studies, and global studies textbooks reveals that each field defines itself differently: one in terms of its central focus on the diplomatic and strategic relations of states, the second more broadly by including transnational transactions of all kinds, and the third focusing on globalization as both an object of analysis and a lens through which to view nearly all phenomena. However, in reading past the definitional chapters there are clear overlaps—most notably with regard to each introductory textbook’s treatment of globalization. Close examination of recently published introductory textbooks and those well into multiple editions reveals that globalization is treated as a fundamental aspect of each of the three fields. While both International Relations (IR) and International Studies (IS) scholars have contributed significantly to further broadening of both IR and IS in order to become increasingly “global,” other scholars have moved to create a new field of study called Global Studies (GS). This new field of GS developed in the 1990s as scholars from multiple disciplines began to study the many dimensions of globalization. While globalization remains an essentially contested concept, most scholars accept as uncontroversial that it refers to the many strings that connect the world such that pulling on one string in one place will make a change somewhere else. Globalization’s central dynamics include interconnectivity, reconfiguration of space and time, and enhanced mobility. GS is the only field that places the contested concept of globalization at the center of its intellectual initiative.

Article

Gavan Duffy and Sean Miskell

International Studies (IS) generally refers to the specific university degrees and courses which are concerned with the study of the major political, economic, social, and cultural issues that dominate the international agenda. The terms and concepts of IS and international relations (IR) are strongly related; however, IR focuses more directly on the relationship between countries, whereas IS can encompass all phenomena which are globally oriented. Since the artifacts of world politics—international laws and treaties, foreign policies, diplomatic exchanges, military plans, and journalistic accounts—are usually presented in textual and/or verbal form, it is only natural to examine international political mechanism via linguistic models. Automatic content analysis is more and more becoming an accepted research method in social science. In political science, researchers are using party manifestos and transcripts of political speeches to analyze the positions of different actors. But while analysts are accustomed to incorporating manifestos, speeches, media reports, and other documents as evidence in their studies, few approach the task with the same level of understanding and sophistication as when applying other, more quantitative methods. Indeed, while recent innovations in statistical analysis have lent significant precision to the study of political texts, these advances have vastly outstripped those in the interpretive field.

Article

Benjamin J. Muller

Governmentality and biopolitics has emerged as a chief source of scholarship and debate within contemporary international relations (IR), particularly among those involved in the sub-disciplines, Critical Security Studies and International Political Sociology. Governmentality, first and foremost, is a term coined by philosopher Michel Foucault, and refers to the way in which the state exercises control over, or governs, the body of its populace. Meanwhile, biopolitics, which was coined by Rudolf Kjellén, is an intersectional field between biology and politics. In contemporary US political science studies, usage of the term biopolitics is mostly divided between a poststructuralist group using the meaning assigned by Michel Foucault (denoting social and political power over life), and another group who uses it to denote studies relating biology and political science. The foci of literatures on governmentality and biopolitics are particularly agreeable to many scholars critical of traditional IR scholarship and its distinct articulation of “world politics.” The shifty nature of both concepts, as defined by Michel Foucault and the subsequent use by various scholars, presents challenges to setting any specific account of these terms; yet the blurriness of these concepts is what makes them productive, contrary to the zero-sum, rationalist accounts of power and behavior so central to much of conventional IR.

Article

Anna Leander

The terms habitus and field are useful heuristic devices for thinking about power relations in international studies. Habitus refers to a person’s taken-for-granted, unreflected—hence largely habitual—way of thinking and acting. The habitus is a “structuring structure” shaping understandings, attitudes, behavior, and the body. It is formed through the accumulated experience of people in different fields. Using fields to study the social world is to acknowledge that social life is highly differentiated. A field can be exceedingly varied in scope and scale. A family, a village, a market, an organization, or a profession may be conceptualized as a field provided it develops its own organizing logic around a stake at stake. Each field is marked by its own taken-for-granted understanding of the world, implicit and explicit rules of behavior, and valuation of what confers power onto someone: that is, what counts as “capital.” The analysis of power through the habitus/field makes it possible to transcend the distinctions between the material and the “ideational” as well as between the individual and the structural. Moreover, working with habitus/field in international studies problematizes the role played by central organizing divides, such as the inside/outside and the public/private; and can uncover politics not primarily structured by these divides. Developing research drawing on habitus/field in international studies will be worthwhile for international studies scholars wishing to raise and answer questions about symbolic power/violence.

Article

The scientific study of international processes (SSIP) has made substantial progress over the past twenty years, establishing itself as the mainstream research community in the field of international relations (IR) and attracting more and more attention from other disciplines. This was due to the convergence of several revolutions that have taken place in the field, including the data revolution, the formal modeling revolution, the methods revolution, the substantive revolution, and the epistemological revolution. In addition to the dramatic increase in the number of the community of scholars who use scientific logic, systematic methods, and empirical data to study IR, there was a significant improvement in the quality of research. This research has yielded important contributions to our understanding of international processes. Some of these contributions went far beyond the field; they have attracted the attention of policy makers as well as quite a few scholars from other disciplines. Some of the key findings that emerged from this research have become—correctly or incorrectly—a key component of the discourse of political leaders. Growing data availability, increased methodological sophistication, and greater scientific discipline within the profession have converged to open new research frontiers, but important challenges remain, such as the disconnect between theory and empirical tests that exists in many cases, and the almost exclusive reliance on the dyadic level of analysis. It is important to make our understanding of international processes translated into broader policy implications.

Article

The International Studies Association (ISA) was founded in 1959, but the Scientific Study of International Politics (SSIP) only became one of its sections in 1993. SSIP researchers initially believed that subject oriented committees were unparalleled. They argued that combining traditional and quantitative research on a single committee with a common subject focus would encourage cross-examination and provide a greater understanding of the problem—but this was not the case. Nowadays, the SSIP is dedicated to the pursuit of international studies using formal or empirical data. Following the methods of scientific inquiry, the section aims to support and promote replicable research in terms of the clarity of a theory and/or the testing of hypotheses. The SSIP is committed to bringing together researchers who, at all levels of analysis and with respect to the entire range of international political questions, pursue these issues using formally stated arguments and/or systematically collected and analyzed empirical data. Furthermore, the SSIP fully cooperates with any existing organization that has similar goals, both within and outside the ISA. The significance of international studies manifests through degrees and courses that engage students and researchers with the increasing number of issues and phenomena which have arisen in the current globalized world. As such, most education providers justify the need for the degrees by relating the increasing importance of the discipline with real-world situations and employment opportunities.

Article

Computer simulations can be defined in three categories: computational modeling simulations, human-computer simulations, and computer-mediated simulations. These categories of simulations are defined primarily by the role computers take and by the role humans take in the implementation of the simulation. The literature on the use of simulations in the international studies classroom considers under what circumstances and in what ways the use of simulations creates pedagogical benefits when compared with other teaching methods. But another issue to consider is under what circumstances and in what ways the use of computers can add (or subtract) pedagogical value when compared to other methods for implementing simulations. There are six alleged benefits of using simulation: encouraging cognitive and affective learning, enhancing student motivation, creating opportunities for longer-term learning, increasing personal efficiency, and promoting student-teacher relations. Moreover, in regard to the use of computer simulations, there are a set of good practices to consider. The first good practice emerges out of a realization of the unequal level of access to technology. The second good practice emerges from a clear understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of a computer-assisted simulation. The final and perhaps most fundamental good practice emerges from the idea that computers and technology more generally are not ends in themselves, but a means to help instructors reach a set of pedagogical goals.