Sociology and international relations: legacies and prospects
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
... 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.