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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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Thinking beyond the Constructivist–Critical Theory Synthesis

Thinking beyond the Constructivist–Critical Theory Synthesis

(p.147) 8 Thinking beyond the Constructivist–Critical Theory Synthesis
International Relations' Last Synthesis?

J. Samuel Barkin

Laura Sjoberg

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to the concept of affordances introduced in chapter 1. It proceeds in the spirit of thinking through theoretical approaches’ affordances to ask how specific critical theories and constructivisms might inform each other in the absence of a broader constructivist–critical theory synthesis. It does so in two parts. The first looks at examples of specific overlaps in which the affordances of a particular constructivism serve the needs of a particular exercise in critical theory, or vice-versa. It demonstrates that, while there are approaches that do not afford overlap, there are also approaches that do afford overlap. The second part argues that a politics and an ontology are not strictly analogous; the scope for constructivist tools in critical research is in fact narrower than the scope for critical reading of constructivist research.

Keywords:   IR theory, constructivism, critical theory, ontology, methodology, affordances

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