Sociology and international relations: legacies and prospects

George Lawson, Robbie Shilliam
2010 Cambridge Review of International Affairs  
While sociological concepts have often been implicitly used in International Relations (IR), recent years have seen a more explicit engagement between IR and Sociology. From constructivist debates about structure-agency, identity formation and constitutive causation to post-structuralist accounts of biopower, genealogy and governmentality, many of sociology's most fundamental concerns have been used to illuminate core features of international theory. As with any such interdisciplinary
more » ... sciplinary assignation, there are both possibilities and challenges contained within this move: possibilities in terms of reducing IR's intellectual autism and opening the discipline towards potentially fertile terrain that was never, actually, that distant; challenges in that interdisciplinary raiding parties can often serve as pseudonyms for cannibalism, shallowness and dilettantism. This forum reviews the sociological turn in IR and interrogates it from a novel vantage point -how sociologists themselves approach IR concepts, debates and issues. Three sociological approaches -classical social theory, historical sociology and Foucauldian analysisare critically deployed to illuminate IR concerns. In this way, the forum offers the possibility of (re-)establishing exchanges between the two disciplines premised on a firmer grasp of social theory itself. The result is a potentially more fruitful sociological turn, one with significant benefits for IR as a whole.
doi:10.1080/09557570903433647 fatcat:utjkzeuso5ebfa356xuf3wiywi