Article

Historical Methods

Joel Quirk

in The Oxford Handbook of International Relations

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780199219322
Published online September 2009 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199219322.003.0030

Series: OXFORD HANDBOOKS POL SCIENCE SERI OHPS C

Historical Methods

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Research into both international and intellectual history has flourished in recent times. This article highlights a number of recent contributions, paying particular attention to the relationship between history, theory, and method. The article is organized into five distinct sections. The first section offers a brief sketch of the vagaries of history as a field of study. The second section is concerned with the search for universal models, and the relationship between rationalist theories, radical simplification, and international history. The third section is concerned with critical responses to the historical limitations of radical simplification, and allied attempts to come to terms with questions of contingency and complexity. The fourth section explores more recent developments in rationalist theory. Using innovations in realist theory as an explicatory focal point, it examines a number of recent contributions that have placed rationalist approaches on a stronger historical footing. The main focus throughout this discussion is the origin and operation of the state system, which has long been a premier site for historical inquiry in international relations circles. The final section takes up the parallel field of intellectual history, exploring how recent works on the history of ideas have been shaped around contemporary agendas.

Keywords: international relations; international history; universal models; radical simplification; rationalist theory; state system; intellectual history

Article.  8133 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; International Relations ; Political Methodology

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