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Is There a Discipline of IR? A Heterodox Perspective

Ralph Pettman


Comment on this article   A discipline can be defined as a particular course of instruction and research. As such, it represents one branch among many of the larger tree of human learning. It is relatively easy in the light of such a straightforward definition to posit a discipline of international relations. It is no surprise, therefore, to find scholars and political practitioners doing so. Likewise publishers, research bodies, funding agencies and the media, all of whom now accept international relations as a discrete epistemic realm. Whether we call it international or world affairs, world or global politics, or international or global studies, regular scholarly conferences reinforce the acceptance of international relations as a discipline, as do specialist publications and appropriately named programs within the tertiary, secondary, and adult education sectors. Students and the public alike want to know how and why we have the world affairs we do. To meet this demand analysts discuss international relations in terms of recent events and identifiable issue-areas, using a range of analytical languages. Foreign-policy makers, plus those who plan for transnational corporations and global social movements, frame their most comprehensive concerns likewise. This reinforces in turn the reality of the discipline as an identifiable analytic and political domain. The origins of this ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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