GOVT 2060 International Relations: Theories and Approaches Fall Topic 11 Critical Theory

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1 THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES ST. AUGUSTINE FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE GOVT 2060 International Relations: Theories and Approaches Fall 2017 Topic 11 Critical Theory A post-positivist neo-marxist theory Brought a considerable contribution to the development of post-positivism 1/10

2 ab1234.yolasite.com 2/10

3 At the Caspian Sea University: Chris Brown - Understanding International Relations (3rd ed 2005), 'Critical, poststructuralist and "postmodern" international thought', pp John Baylis, Steve Smith and Patricia Owens, The Globalization of World Politics: an Introduction to International Relations. N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 2008 (4th edition) Ch. 8 excerpts 'Gramscianism' and 'Critical Theory', pp Scott Burchill et al, Theories of International Relations. 3rd Edition. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, Ch 6 Critical Theory (Richard Devetak), pp P. Viotti and M. Kauppi, International Relations Theory: Realism, Pluralism, Globalism, and Beyond. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2012 (5th edition), Ch. 7 excerpt 'Critical Theory', pp /10

4 Course content The History and Evolution of the International System Levels of Analysis and Foreign Policy MAINSTREAM APPROACHES Liberalism Realism Neorealism Neoliberalism POSITIVIST THEORIES STRUCTURALIST APPROACHES Classical Marxism Dependency Theory Structural Imperialism Worlds System Theory International Society Theory (The English School) POST-POSITIVIST THEORIES Constructivism Postmodernism Critical Theory Feminism Environmental theories 4/10

5 Critical Theory "Theory is always for someone and for some purpose." Knowledge is not neutral. Neo-Marxist post-positivist theory. Forerunners Neo-Marxists: Frankfurt School Antonio Gramsci Main authors Robert Cox Andrew Linklater Key features Main concepts Rejects - objective external reality - objective (value-free) social science - subject-object distinction There is no fundamental distinction between subject (the analyst) and objet (the focus of analysis). Knowledge is not neutral. It reflects the interest of the observer. "Theory is always for someone and for some purpose" (Robert Cox). 5/10

6 Knowledge is always biased because it is produced from the social perspective of the analyst. IR vision The social world is a construction of time and space. The international system is a specific construction of the most powerful states. There is no reality discovered (by science), there is a construct. CRITICAL THEORY AS AN EMANCIPATORY THEORY Positivist or 'problem-solving' knowledge in IR: - is biased towards the international status-quo which is based on inequality of power and excludes many people. - is conservative: it seeks to know that which exists at present cannot lead to knowledge of human progress and emancipation which is the knowledge that critical theorists seek to provide. critical theorists seek knowledge for a political purpose: to liberate humanity from the oppressive structures of world politics and world economics controlled by hegemonic powers. 6/10

7 theoretical debates are basically political debates social scientists and social science = instruments of power Critical IR theory = revolutionary it seeks to overthrow the existing political and economic world system HEGEMONY Antonio Gramsci ( ) Robert Cox (b. 1926) 7/10

8 Robert Cox (inspired by Antonio Gramsci) (sometimes IR manuals identify differences between 'Gramscianism' and a 'Critical theory' inspired mostly by the Frankfurt School) redefinition of hegemony hegemony brute power hegemony = dominance legitimized through institutions and relative consensus Gramsci developed Machiavelli's view of power as a centaur, half beast, half man: a mixture of coercion and consent. international cooperation = supports the adjustments and compromises needed to maintain hegemony Cox: material forces + ideas + institutions historical bloc = relatively stable international order: emergence of the liberal economy rival imperialisms since 1945 the neoliberal transnational order: US hegemony = leadership by consent = norms are - formulated in universal terms - compatible with the interests of others 8/10

9 the task of critical IR theorists = the creation of an international counter-hegemony easier due to economic globalization, which - alters existing relationships of production - creates social and political dislocation supporting radical change a counter-hegemonic bloc made of - marginal individuals of rich countries (including former workers who lost their jobs due to globalization-related outsourcing) - the new working class created by the globalization of capitalist modes of production (in countries like China, South-East Asia etc.) change the structure and nature of the international system no more hegemons CRITICAL SECURITY STUDIES - a radical vision: N.B. Within security studies, 'critical schools' include three different approaches: - critical security studies in the strict sense, - feminist studies, - postmodernist studies. Within IR Theories, these three approaches are studied as independent theories. 9/10

10 - systemic approach global economic and social forces real evolution of security - human security = assisting humans vulnerable to unjust and oppressive systems of exclusion - human insecurity = o economic deprivation o social identity crises o environmental issues o health and education problems Nation state = outdated Nation state = hampers human emancipation An ethical vision prioritizing human security must replace the state vision of security. Sovereign state insecurity; human security justifies the right of the international community (UN) to intervene in a state's internal affairs CRITICISM Theory is always for someone and for some purpose the value of a theory cannot be decided in purely academic terms the value of any theory = based on political/ideological beliefs (the communist view of 'bourgeois' theories) 10/10

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