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Applying Jackson’s methodological ideal-types: problems of differentiation and classification

Humphreys, A. R. C. (2013) Applying Jackson’s methodological ideal-types: problems of differentiation and classification. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 41 (2). pp. 290-308. ISSN 1477-9021

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1177/0305829812463476


In The Conduct of Inquiry in International Relations, Patrick Jackson situates methodologies in International Relations in relation to their underlying philosophical assumptions. One of his aims is to map International Relations debates in a way that ‘capture[s] current controversies’ (p. 40). This ambition is overstated: whilst Jackson’s typology is useful as a clarificatory tool, (re)classifying existing scholarship in International Relations is more problematic. One problem with Jackson’s approach is that he tends to run together the philosophical assumptions which decisively differentiate his methodologies (by stipulating a distinctive warrant for knowledge claims) and the explanatory strategies that are employed to generate such knowledge claims, suggesting that the latter are entailed by the former. In fact, the explanatory strategies which Jackson associates with each methodology reflect conventional practice in International Relations just as much as they reflect philosophical assumptions. This makes it more difficult to identify each methodology at work than Jackson implies. I illustrate this point through a critical analysis of Jackson’s controversial reclassification of Waltz as an analyticist, showing that whilst Jackson’s typology helps to expose inconsistencies in Waltz’s approach, it does not fully support the proposed reclassification. The conventional aspect of methodologies in International Relations also raises questions about the limits of Jackson’s ‘engaged pluralism’.

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:33787
Publisher:Sage Publications

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