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Beyond Positivism: Critical Reflections on International by Claire Turenne Sjolander

By Claire Turenne Sjolander

This paintings adopts the idea that the metatheoretical debates approximately positivists and post-positivists have reached an deadlock; it means that an strategy pushed through theoretical reflexivity bargains a foundation on which substitute understandings of diplomacy could be built.

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Walker, 1984:531-532) In other words, instead of taking the state as an object of theoretical inquiry, international relations theory has uncritically tended to conceive of it as the main actor, as an ontological entity, or as an observable given institutional entity. The consequences of this tendency are clear. The concept of the state, for example, has been used interchangeably with nation, power, and sovereignty in realist scholarship (Ferguson and Mansbach, 1988:7). As a result, the realist paradigm tends to reduce the state to the decisionmaking process whereby the only objective is to maintain nation-interest, defined as "the struggle for national power" (Morgenthau, 1967:2-3).

This type of research becomes possible when personal awareness and conscious-ness-raising, the hallmarks of the radical feminist political project, become linked to the socialto the process not only of individual change, but to social change in the active struggle to dismantle oppressive systems of power. Theory and research must become a collaborative process between academics and those actively engaged in political struggles to ensure that research is conducted in the interests of women rather than simply being research about women.

The inability to address gendered, class, and Eurocentered biases necessarily weakens the critical self-reflexive thrust of these projects, leaving intact the interrelated hierarchies of privilege, which may serve to reinforce them in the real world. This  < previous page < previous page page_146 page_147 next page > next page > Page 147 possibility is further strengthened in the light of the problematic treatment of meaning construction in the new critical international relations literature. Scholarly attention in the discipline is now beginning to shift attention onto the construction of meaning as a social practice (Wendt, 1987), and rightly so, given that this key dimension lies outside the scope of positivism-empiricism and has been minimized by much of the radical structuralist Marxist perspectives.

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