Theory as Ideology in International Relations: The Politics of Knowledge, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Theory as Ideology in International Relations

The Politics of Knowledge, 1st Edition

Edited by Benjamin Martill, Sebastian Schindler


304 pages

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Hardback: 9780367074944
pub: 2020-03-30
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Are theoretical tools nothing but political weapons? How can the two be distinguished from each other? What is the ideological role of theories like liberalism, neoliberalism, or democratic theory? And how can we study the theories of actors from outside the academic world? This book examines these and related questions at the nexus of theory and ideology in International Relations.

The current crisis of politics made it abundantly clear that theory is not merely an impartial and neutral academic tool, but instead implicated in political struggles. However, it is also clear that it is insufficient to view theory merely as a political weapon. This book brings together contributions from a number of different scholarly perspectives to engage with these problems. The contributors, drawn from various fields of International Relations and political science, cast new light on the ever problematic relationship between theory and ideology. They analyze the ideological underpinnings of existing academic theories, and examine the theories of non-academic actors such as staff members of international organizations, ecovillagers, and liberal politicians.

This edited volume is a must-read for all those interested in the contemporary political crisis and its relation to theories of International Relations.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Theory as Ideology in International Relations
Benjamin Martill & Sebastian Schindler

Part 1: Understanding Theory and Ideology

1. Theory vs. Ideology: Validity Criteria for Knowledge Claims and Normative Conditions of Critique
Hartmut Behr

2. Ideology as Decontestation
Benjamin Herborth

3. Theory, ideology and IR’s quest for scientific credibility
Katarzyna Kaczmarska

4. ‘I see Something You Don't See’: Niklas Luhmann’s Social Theory between Observation and Meta-Critique
Florian Edelmann

Part II: Contemporary Theories as Ideologies

5. The Costs of the Democratic Turn in Political Theory
Albena Azmanova

6. The Spirits We Cite: How Democratic War Theory Reproduces what it Opposes
Valerie Waldow

7. From Theory to Practice: The Paradox of Neoliberal Hegemony in 21st Century World Politics
Philip G. Cerny

8. Liberalism and the Cold War: The International Thought of Jo Grimond
Benjamin Martill

Part III: Theorisation outside Academia

9. Ideologies of International Organization: Exploring the Trading Zones between Theory and Practice
Leonie Holthaus & Jens Steffek

10. From allegations of ideology to conflicts over forms of life – Or: Why political scientists don’t talk about Ecovillages
Philip Wallmeier

11. Microanalysis as ideology critique: the critical potential of ‘zooming in’ on everyday social practices
Sebastian Schindler

Conclusion: From the Politics of Knowledge to Knowledge of Politics
Beate Jahn

About the Editors

Benjamin Martill is Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh, UK, where he conducts research and teaching on the politics of European foreign and security policy. He is co-editor (with Uta Staiger) of the volume Brexit and Beyond: Rethinking the Futures of Europe (2018) and his work has featured in Security Studies, International Politics, the Journal of Political Ideologies, and the British Journal of Politics and International Relations. Benjamin has previously worked at the London School of Economics, University College London, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the University of Oxford.

Sebastian Schindler is Research Associate at Geschwister-Scholl-Institute for Political Science, Ludwig Maximilians Universität, Munich, Germany. His research interests include theories of International Relations (IR), international organisations, theories of practice, and critical theories. He holds a doctoral degree from Goethe University, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, and has published articles in leading journals of the field, including International Studies Quarterly, International Theory, and Politische Vierteljahresschrift. In 2014, he won Millennium – Journal of International Studies’ F. S. Northedge Essay Competition, with an article on contested agency in the United Nations. In 2019, a special issue on ‘Rethinking Agency in International Relations’, which he co-edited with Benjamin Braun and Tobias Wille, appeared in Journal of International Relations and Development. The focus of his current research lies on the problem of post-truth politics.

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

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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