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The Promises, Problems, and Potentials of a Bourdieu-Inspired Staging of International Relations

Authors


  • The author would like to thank the contributors to this special issue, Peter Alexander Albrecht, Jorge Fernandez, Stefano Guzzini, Dan Nexon and Liliana Pop for their comments on earlier versions of this article.

Abstract

The promise of Bourdieu-inspired analysts to provide a “different reading” of the international is receiving increasing attention in the academic discipline of international relations (IR). This attention also generates awareness and of problems inherent in the Bourdieuian approach and a desire to develop it further (or abandon it). These discussions have often focused on the difficulties that arise for IR as a consequence of the structuralism of Bourdieu’s approach, and as such they dovetail with the discussions between Bourdieu’s “critical sociology” and the “pragmatic school” in the French context. This article uses these discussions to clarify what it entails to paint a different picture—my picture—of the international using Bourdieu’s thinking tools. More specifically, it argues that Bourdieu’s thinking can be used as a basis for a non-structuralist staging of the international taking on board the critique raised by pragmatists and integrating many of the insights developed by them. Bourdieu often referred to his own thinking as a “structuralist constructivism,” so this article takes Bourdieu’s thinking in a direction he may not have liked to go. However, it sticks closely to the spirit of his contention that one should never privilege scholastic theorizing for the sake of theorizing nor hesitate to “read a thinker against himself.”

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