International Relations as Politics among People: Hermeneutic Encounters and Global Governance, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

International Relations as Politics among People

Hermeneutic Encounters and Global Governance, 1st Edition

By Hannes Hansen-Magnusson


126 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2019-12-11
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Pioneering a hermeneutic methodology for analyses of global governance, this is the first monograph that makes Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Paul Ricœur’s hermeneutic philosophy relevant for global politics research. Drawing on the concept of "horizon" as the element that captures the dynamics of understanding in social interaction in order to analyse processes of international politics, this book shows that what is required is the embeddedness of meanings and ideas in human action and reflection. By advancing theory-building with regard to particular questions of global governance, it reconceptualises international relations as "politics among people". Providing a contextualised constructivist approach that highlights the importance of processes to which people are central, it challenges the use of collective concepts such as "state" and "nation" as units of analysis which continue to dominate international relations but which cloud the details of interaction processes.

The two case studies of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Germany in NATO’s mission "Operation Allied Force" in Kosovo in 1999 are structured around this contextualised constructivist approach developed in the monograph. The studies reveal how interaction processes can be made accountable, leading to new vantage points of our understanding of governance problems.

This book will be of interest to scholars interested in global governance, the work of Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricœeur and hermeneutic philosophy, the UN, humanitarian interventions, and foreign policy analysts.

Table of Contents

1. Introducing Politics among People

Why politics among people?

Beyond anarchy – meaningful politics in strange places

Aims of the book: hermeneutic situations and how to find them

The horizon of Politics among People: knowledge and power

Performances and topoi

Outline of the book

2. Hermeneutic approaches to meaning

Making sense

Delineating hermeneutic performances

Competent performances



Horizons, memory and the politics of performance

Meaning and (neuro-)science

Knowledge and the path to knowing

3. The topoi of interpretive research

Hermeneutic research


Criteria of validity in interpretive research

Proceeding by comparison and sequence

Finding topoi

4. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea

The case: bringing UNCLOS as politics among people to IR

Outline of the case study: data and the process of analysis

Comte’s positivism

Humanity: making the Law of the Sea

Objectivity: delimiting the continental shelf

Expertocracy: who gets to participate in the endless re-making of the Law of the Sea?



5. Humanity and German Intervention in Kosovo 1999

The case: intervention and the concern for humanity

Outline of the case study: data and the process of analysis

The topos of ‘Humanity’

From pacifism to intervention

Founding the Greens

Green Foreign Policy during the 1990s

The Responsibility to Intervene


6. Horizons of politics

How to deal with politics among people?

Hermeneutic encounters

Hermeneutic methodology

The cases


Towards new horizons

About the Author

Hannes Hansen-Magnusson is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University, UK. His research is located in international relations with particular interests in global governance, focusing on actors and practices at the transnational level and the role of culture in international politics.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics

International relations is a rapidly changing area of research, reacting to and anticipating an ever more integrated and globalised world. This series aims to publish the best new work in the field of international relations, and of politics more generally. Books in the series challenge existing empirical and normative theories, and advance new paradigms as well as presenting significant new research.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General