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Chapter 9

POL208Y1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Postpositivism, Post-Structuralism, Postcolonialism

Political Science
Course Code
Arnd Jurgensen

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Chapter 9: Post-positivism in IR
Post-positivists argue against positive methodology with its focus on observable
facts and measurable data and its ambition to scientifically explain the world of
international relations
Critical of any claim of an established truth for all
Post-structuralism: focused on language and discourse
Adopts a critical attitude towards established approaches in that it
highlights the ways in which these theories represent and discuss the
Post-colonialism: adopts a post-structural attitude in order to understand the
situation in areas that were conquered by Europe
Feminism: underlines that women are a disadvantaged group in the world, both
in material terms and in terms of a value system which favors men over women
Post-Structuralism in IR
Reject empiricism, the view that science is based merely on observation of facts
Pure, ‘objective’ observation is not possible
The social world is a construction of time and place: the international system is a
specific construction of the most powerful states
Knowledge is not and cannot be neutral
There is no objective reality; everything involving human beings is subjective
Particularly critical of realism because of its one-sided focus on (northern) states
Neorealism presents a world where a variety of actors (e.g., women, the
poor, groups in the South, protest movements) and processes (e.g.,
exploitation, subordination, environmental degradation) are not identified
and analyzed
Neorealism therefore constructs a biased picture of the world that needs
to be exposed and criticized
Post-Colonialism in IR
Focus is on the relationship between on the one hand, western countries in
Europe and North America, and on the other hand, the areas in Africa, Asia,
Latin America, and elsewhere that were colonizes or dominated by Western
Argues that the logic and ideas underpinning the relatonship between the West
and these areas continues to be one of hierarchy, reflecting Western concepts
and understandings
Feminism in IR
Feminists focus on basic inequalities between men and women and the
consequences of such inequalities for world politics
Feminist critique points out that the realist idea of security, for example, is a
masculinist way of looking at the world
Critique of Post-positivist Approaches
Post-positivists are unhappy with positivist methodology; positivists maintain that
the specific method they employ is superior
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