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Another Waltz? Methodological rhetoric and practice in theory of international politics

Humphreys, A. R. C. ORCID: (2012) Another Waltz? Methodological rhetoric and practice in theory of international politics. International Relations, 26 (4). pp. 389-408. ISSN 1741-2862

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0047117812466817


Although Theory of International Politics is a standard-bearer for explanatory theory in international relations (IR), Waltz’s methodology has been subject to numerous quite disparate analyses. One reason why it has proved hard to pin down is that too little attention has been paid to how, in practice, Waltz approaches real-world problems. Despite his neopositivist rhetoric, Waltz applies neorealism in a notably loose, even indeterminate, fashion. There is therefore a disjunction between what he says and what he does. This is partly explained by his unsatisfactory attempt to reconcile his avowed neopositivism with his belief that international politics is characterized by organized complexity. The inconsistencies thus created also help to make sense of why competing interpretations of his methodology have emerged. Some aspects of his work do point beyond these particular methodological travails in ways that will continue to be of interest to IR theorists, but its most enduring methodological lesson may be that rhetoric and practice do not necessarily fit harmoniously together.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations > Politics and International Relations
ID Code:33784

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