Introduction: International Society and the English School

Alex J. Bellamy

in International Society and its Critics

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780199265206
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601866 | DOI:
Introduction: International Society and the English School

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Starts by outlining the three broad ways that there are of thinking about the contribution of the English School of International Relations and international society approach to the study of contemporary international relations. The first way is to follow Barry Buzan in arguing that the English School is an ‘underexploited resource’ and that ‘the time is ripe to develop and apply its historicist, and methodologically pluralist approach’ to the subject; the second, at the other end of the spectrum, calls for the School's closure, or indeed, argues that it no longer exists because it has been too much distorted by contemporary proponents who have eschewed some of its foundational ideas – such as the centrality of states, and the importance of power politics; the third perspective is somewhere between these two, and has arisen as a result of the increased dialogue between English School ideas and other theoretical perspectives – most notably realism and constructivism, which call for the further refinement of English School thinking to give it a theory that is capable of identifying the motors for change and lines of causation in world politics. The primary purpose of this book is to assess these three positions and question the utility of the English School and international society approach to world politics, and to contribute to the development of English School thinking by opening up avenues for theoretical dialogue with other perspectives and suggesting new lines of theoretically informed empirical analysis. Two further sections of the introduction look at international relations theory after the cold war, and discuss the central question of the relationship between the English School and the concept of international society. The final section summarizes the ground covered in each chapter of the book.

Keywords: cold war; constructivism; development; distortion; empirical analysis; English School of International Relations; Historicity; international relations theory; international relations; international society; pluralism, realism; refinement; world politics

Chapter.  13625 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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