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International Relations' Last Synthesis?Decoupling Constructivist and Critical Approaches$
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J. Samuel Barkin and Laura Sjoberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190463427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190463427.001.0001

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Critical Theory Is Ontologically Promiscuous and Methodologically Agnostic

Critical Theory Is Ontologically Promiscuous and Methodologically Agnostic

(p.99) 6 Critical Theory Is Ontologically Promiscuous and Methodologically Agnostic
International Relations' Last Synthesis?

J. Samuel Barkin

Laura Sjoberg

Oxford University Press

Do critical approaches to International Relations have some ontological commonality? Is there some tenet about what the world is (or should be) that critical approaches share? Does critical International Relations scholarship have methodological, perhaps even constructivist, commonality? This chapter makes the case that critical theories are sets of political commitments, not ontologies or sets of research methods. To read critical theories as ontology or method is to do injustice to their ties to politics; to read critical theories as methodologically bound is unfairly limiting to them. The chapter provides an overview of the range of ontologies and methods that are useful to the spectrum of International Relations critical theories, suggesting that this spectrum is broad, varied, and not necessarily internally consistent. While constructivisms can be methodologically useful to critical theorizing, they are only some among many of the tools that can be employed fruitfully in service of the various ends of International Relations critical theories.

Keywords:   International Relations theory, critical theory, feminism, political theory, ontology, methodology

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