I am deeply indebted to Hayward Alker for the inspiration for this project, the resources to start it, our long conversations about it, and his encouragement that I follow it up, even outside of my normal areas of research. I am also appreciative of comments from Carolyn Cartier and several anonymous reviewers, whose help has sharpened this article immensely. Any mistakes remain my own.
Scaling IR Theory: Geography’s Contribution to Where IR Takes Place1
Article first published online: 22 AUG 2008
© 2008 International Studies Association
International Studies Review
Volume 10, Issue 3, pages 472–500, September 2008
How to Cite
Sjoberg, L. (2008), Scaling IR Theory: Geography’s Contribution to Where IR Takes Place. International Studies Review, 10: 472–500. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2008.00801.x
- Issue published online: 22 AUG 2008
- Article first published online: 22 AUG 2008
This article re-engages international relations’ (IR) longest debates on “where” and “why” global politics happens: the levels-of-analysis debate and the agent-structure debate. It argues for the continuing relevance of the conceptual questions contained in these debates, but critiques the inadequacy of current iterations of those debates in the international relations literature. In it, I introduce to political scientists political geographers’ concept of scales and scalar processes to replace levels, agents, and structures. I outline the benefits of such an approach for the substance and method of IR’s studies of global politics. I then formalize a scalar approach to global politics in six principles, modeled after Morgenthau’s six principles of political realism. The article concludes with suggested directions for a scalar approach to IR, focusing on reformulations of IR’s approaches to the study of the War on Terror.