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POL 2103 E - Intro to International Relations _ Global Politics - Joseph Roman - 02 Jan. 08.docx

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Political Science
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Mark Salter

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POL 2103 E - Intro to International Relations & Global Politics - Joseph Roman - 02 Jan. 08 Understanding IR (International Relations) - Where does the discipline come from? - What role does theory play? - How do we do research in IR? - Debates within IR The Origins of IR as a Discipline - Debates surround whether IR (1) has a distinct object of analysis, (2) agrees on a definition, or (3) ought to analyze power and institutions - Is IR a discipline of its own or a sub-discipline of PS? - Generally, IR does seek to explain international politics & state behaviour, how do states interact with each other - Emerging fields of international political economy and international organization - Emerging sub-fields, e.g. gender in IR, foreign policy analysis - Can sub-fields eventually become fields of their own? - IR as an enterprise that is distinctlyAmerican social science - Emerges after World War 2 & explodes during the Cold War - Generous funding leads to the US becoming a centre for IR research - IR becomes “international” - Hierarchies of Research & publishing - Within the leading IR journals, the only way to get published is to employ certain methodologies (positivist method, the SS methods should be models after the natural sciences, etc.) - They’re mostlyAmerican - Island of research that prizes theory over empirical work Theory in & of IR - IR theory always seeks to see the world - Theories always have ontological, epistemological, & methodological components - Ontology = what actors make up the world, i.e., the social furniture - Epistemology = how we know the world - Methodology = the techniques we use to unearth data & evidence - Theory always seeks to explain & provide temporal sequences - Is theory practice or is it to gain knowledge of the world? Positivism vs. Post-positivism 1. Positivists advocate for: systematic observation; collecting data to reveal patterns & establish general laws; refraining from including non-observables - Emphasis on parsimony (limiting variables to see what’s important) - Quantification key concept too - According to positivists, if conclusions, etc. can’t be quantified, it’s useless - Modelling the social sciences after the natural sciences - Positivism dominates the field of IR, affecting the discipline’s questions & answers, limiting which questions may be asked and which answers are valid 2. Post-positivism - reject positivism as a means to understanding social processes - You can’t just remove a variable and know what results from the change, like in the natural resources. Therefore, positivism isn’t even consistent, as you can’t experiment with social life while controlling all variables. - Post-positivists say interpretation matters. - Hermeneutical approaches - Interpretive approaches focusing on beliefs and meanings - Ps say that an objective reality exists. PPs (post-positivists) say that no, you have to interpret things - Qualitative analysis - PPs say that just because you can’t measure certain things, it doesn’t mean it’s not important. - Don’t reject empirical inquiries, but some aspects of social reality are not amenable to
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