1st Edition

Theory as Ideology in International Relations The Politics of Knowledge

Edited By Benjamin Martill, Sebastian Schindler Copyright 2020
    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    268 Pages
    by Routledge

    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 is 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 analyse the ideological underpinnings of existing academic theories and examine the theories of non-academic actors such as staff members of international organisations, 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.

    List of Contributors


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

    Part I

    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 Twenty-First-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



    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. He 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, 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 the Journal of International Relations and Development. The focus of his current research lies on the problem of post-truth politics.