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Towards a genealogy of 'society' in International Relations

Bartelson, Jens LU (2015) In Review of International Studies 41(4). p.675-692
Abstract
The concept of society and its cognates have long been widely invoked in order to understand International Relations. Theories of international society distinguish between a society of states and a mere system of states, and theories of world society assume that the world constitutes a single social space. In order to come to terms with the social character of International Relations, constructivists of different stripes have invoked a societal context within which the construction of identities and norms takes place. As I shall argue in this article, these usages draw on conceptions of society that emerged during the early phases of modern sociology, and have then been projected onto alien historical and cultural contexts. In order to... (More)
The concept of society and its cognates have long been widely invoked in order to understand International Relations. Theories of international society distinguish between a society of states and a mere system of states, and theories of world society assume that the world constitutes a single social space. In order to come to terms with the social character of International Relations, constructivists of different stripes have invoked a societal context within which the construction of identities and norms takes place. As I shall argue in this article, these usages draw on conceptions of society that emerged during the early phases of modern sociology, and have then been projected onto alien historical and cultural contexts. In order to avoid the anachronism and Eurocentrism that invariably have resulted from these uncritical usages, I argue that academic International Relations should seek to accommodate those forms of human association that cannot be subsumed under a recognisably modern concept of society by incorporating insights from postcolonial sociology into its theoretical core. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Review of International Studies
volume
41
issue
4
pages
675 - 692
publisher
Cambridge University Press
external identifiers
  • wos:000361571200004
  • scopus:84941880588
ISSN
0260-2105
DOI
10.1017/S0260210515000194
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
60b2d1b3-997a-4ff3-be57-2fd1b1ab8259 (old id 8058581)
date added to LUP
2015-10-21 09:01:52
date last changed
2017-10-08 03:53:12
@article{60b2d1b3-997a-4ff3-be57-2fd1b1ab8259,
  abstract     = {The concept of society and its cognates have long been widely invoked in order to understand International Relations. Theories of international society distinguish between a society of states and a mere system of states, and theories of world society assume that the world constitutes a single social space. In order to come to terms with the social character of International Relations, constructivists of different stripes have invoked a societal context within which the construction of identities and norms takes place. As I shall argue in this article, these usages draw on conceptions of society that emerged during the early phases of modern sociology, and have then been projected onto alien historical and cultural contexts. In order to avoid the anachronism and Eurocentrism that invariably have resulted from these uncritical usages, I argue that academic International Relations should seek to accommodate those forms of human association that cannot be subsumed under a recognisably modern concept of society by incorporating insights from postcolonial sociology into its theoretical core.},
  author       = {Bartelson, Jens},
  issn         = {0260-2105},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {675--692},
  publisher    = {Cambridge University Press},
  series       = {Review of International Studies},
  title        = {Towards a genealogy of 'society' in International Relations},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0260210515000194},
  volume       = {41},
  year         = {2015},
}