IR Paradigms from tutorial
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x Thomas Kuhn argues that the thinking of a scientific
community takes place within a ‘paradigm’, which
governs what scientists are to make of recalcitrant
x Paradigms are a set of very broad assumptions to
which one is deeply committed and a set of
institutional practices governing the current conduct
of (social) science.2
x Paradigms are integrated into psychological schema,
that is, a working hypothesis about some aspect of
the environment, and may be a concept of the self
(self-schema), other individuals (person schema),
groups (role-schema), or sequences of events in the
x Psychological research illustrates the tendency to
discount information that is discrepant with existing
schema; discrepant information strengthens rather
than undermines existing schema.4
x For instance, Newtonian assumptions that all events
are causally determined by the operation of forces
and causal laws. Routine science and routine
scientific progress only occur while the governing
paradigm copes with apparent exceptions.5
1 Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 2nd edn. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970).
2 Martin Hollis and Steve Smith, Explaining and Understanding in International Relations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 59.
3 Janice Gross Stein, “Psychological Explanations of International Conflict,” in Handbook of International Relations (London: Sage
Publications, 2002), 293.
4 Ibid, 293.
5 Hollis and Smith, Explaining and Understanding in International Relations, 59.
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