International Relations in France: Writing between Discipline and State, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

International Relations in France

Writing between Discipline and State, 1st Edition

By Henrik Breitenbauch


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Why is the French International Relations (IR) discipline different from the transnational-American discipline? By analysing argument structures in research articles across time, this book shows how the discipline in France is caught between the American character of the discipline and the French state as regulator of legitimate forms of expression. Concretely, French research arguments are less explicit about what their propositions are and what academic discussions they draw on and add to than their transnational-American counterparts.

Based on a comparative case study of French and American IR research from 1950 to 2011, the book is a major contribution to the meta-IR literature on global, regional and national traditions of IR. The challenge to the French discipline of whether and how to position itself in relation to the evolving American discipline is in many ways exemplary for other non-American national IR disciplines, and the choices as well as the structural conditions underlying the French case are relevant to all non-Western disciplines.

The comparative analysis moreover reveals that the modern American discipline -- what is considered as recognisable social science -- takes shape only during the 1970s. The book thus offers new knowledge about the discipline's international development as such. Both case and methodology are interesting to larger audiences outside IR, in the history and sociology of social science, contrastive rhetoric, as well as French and cultural studies.


International Relations in France. Writing between discipline and state is definitely worth reading, mostly for the original approach the author develops when coupling the historical sociology of the sociogenesis of the state with a political sociology of the legitimate forms of expressions for the study of the formation of a particular domain of knowledge, namely IR in France.

- Philippe Bonditti, University of Kent

There is much of interest in this volume and much that can be learned. It is a peephole to the world of IRT in the ‘Other’ which little by little is being translated so that IRT will be less parochial and the better for it.

- AJR Groom, University of Kent

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Theory: Legitimate Forms of Expression in French IR 3. Origins, Arguments and Less Lego: What French IR Looks Like 4. Shun the Blunt: Dissertational Patterns in French IR 5. Cartesian State Practice: Why the French Write like They Do 6. Conclusion: What the French Case Can Teach IR – Inside and Beyond the West

About the Author

Henrik Breitenbauch is Senior Researcher at the Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

About the Series

Worlding Beyond the West

Historically, the International Relations (IR) discipline has established its boundaries, issues, and theories based upon Western experience and traditions of thought. This series explores the role of geocultural factors, institutions, and academic practices in creating the concepts, epistemologies, and methodologies through which IR knowledge is produced. This entails identifying alternatives for thinking about the "international" that are more in tune with local concerns and traditions outside the West. But it also implies provincializing Western IR and empirically studying the practice of producing IR knowledge at multiple sites within the so-called ‘West’.

We welcome book proposals in areas such as:

  • Critiques of Western-centric scholarship and policy-making.
  • The emergence of new theories and approaches from ‘the periphery’.
  • The challenges for the discipline at large in accommodating its post-Western phase, and the political and ethical dilemmas involved in this.
  • Concrete studies of the results of approaching issues and agendas in ‘the periphery’ with the tools offered by core thinking.
  • Work by scholars from the non-West about local, national, regional or global issues, reflecting on the importance of different perspectives and of geocultural epistemologies.
  • Studies of ‘travelling theory’ – how approaches, concepts and theories get modified, re-casted and translated in different contexts.
  • The meaning and evolution of major concepts in particular regions, such as security thinking, concepts of globalisation and power, understandings of ‘economy’ and ‘development’ or other key categories in particular regions.
  • The sociology of the discipline in different places – with a focus on a country, a region, on specific research communities/schools, subfields, or on specific institutions such as academic associations, journals, foundations or think tanks.
  • Empirical studies of epistemic practices and the conditions of knowledge production in different Western and non-Western locales and sites.
  • Studies of the interaction between different knowledge producers, such as processes of expertise or the dialogue between intellectuals, academics, bureaucrats and policy elites.

Series Editors: Arlene B. Tickner, Universidad del Rosario, Colombia, David Blaney, Macalester College, USA and Inanna Hamati-Ataya, University of Cambridge, UK

Founding Editor: Ole Wæver, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

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