Critical Theory and International Relations

Topics: Sociology, Frankfurt School, Marxism Pages: 3 (2073 words) Published: October 28, 2014

Q10. Which theory of International Relations has added most to your understanding of International politics? Critical Theory has added most to the understanding of international politics as its aim is to ‘stimulate change’ (Devetak 2013, p.165) so as to improve human existence for the better universally. The Critical Theory project has ‘a holistic approach’ (Budd 2013, p.2) and has three components. These are the Normative Inquiry, the Historical Sociological Inquiry and the Praxeological Inquiry. All are based on human Emancipation and its universality, inspired by the Enlightenment. In other words its grand, long-term them is the human freedom project. This is the major reason; Critical Theory has been of most influence in my understanding of international politics . It would be naive to consider Critical Theory as a major theory of international politics . ‘Its place is more complex, as it incorporates both ‘grand theory’ and more applied studies’ (Shapcott 2008,p.329) and it is also ‘an interdisciplinary and trans-disciplinary inquiry’ (p.329). The example of grand theory includes the grand theories of classical realism, the English school, and liberalism, amongst others. The interdisciplinary approach is used to critically show how ‘both obvious and subtle forms’ (Devetak 2013, p.165) of domination and injustice has or is taking place in any given society. In this essay I will examine the three components of the Critical Theory project to highlight its most important features, as well as its inception in the Frankfurt School in Germany. The Enlightenment being its roots and influenced by Kant, Hegel and Marx, twentieth century Critical theorists, who arose from the Frankfurt School, challenged the conservative approach of grand theories such as realism, where anarchy and the status quo lay in ‘the international arena as a realm of recurrence and repetition, where the persistence of anarchy precluded the possibility of theorizing the good life’ (Wight...

References: Cox, R 1981, ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory’, Millennium Journal of International Studies, Vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 126-155.
Devetak, R 2013, ‘Critical Theory’, in Burchill, S, Linklater, A, Devetak, R, Donnelly, J, Nardin T, Paterson, M, Reus-Smit, C & True J (eds), Theories of International Relations 5th edition, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, UK, pp.162-186.
Held, D 2013, Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas, Hoboken: Wiley.
Hoffmann, M 1987, ‘ Critical Theory and the Inter-Paradigm Debate’, Millennium Journal of International Studies, vol. 16, no.2, pp.231-249.Shapcott, R 2008 ‘Critical Theory’, in Reus-Smit C & Snidal D (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of International Relations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, pp. 328-345.
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