PLS 370-A01

Critical Int’l Theory

  • extension of Critical Theory which:
    • problematizes knowledge claims in IR
    • study of IR normative, not neutral
  • CIT uncovers the political interests in the production of knowledge
  • “Theory is always for someone, and for some purpose.” – Cox
  • does not regard knowledge produced by theories as neutral
  • knowledge always seen as political (agenda-driven, see Cox quote)

Kimberly Hutchings

  • IR theory is itself political
  • META-theory


  • exposes the values, ideological commitments & interests behind any theory
  • claims any theory needs to be self-reflective about values and commitments embedded within
  • assumes knowledge is socially and culturally conditioned; IR is similarly influenced
  • seeks to uncover these influences
  • knowledge produced by CIT not neutral, but is politically/ethically charged due to interest in sociopolitical transformation, since it explores progressive alternatives with goal of global justice/freedom
  • method of study: immanent critique (crit system from within)

Problem-solving theories: realism, liberalism

  • traditional theories
  • positivist methodologies
  • tends to legitimize existing sociopolitical institutions
    • instead seeks to make existing order work smoothly
  • objective knowledge is possible; values can be excluded
  • neorealism seeks to preserve existing anarchical system by making it work smoothly
  • Critique:
    • value-bound; not value-neutral as claimed


  • based on interp. undstd., explanation
  • also seeks to critique in order to transform intl politics
  • self-determination for all
  • critiques of Westphalian system

political community

  • present system: Westphalian sovereignty
  • ID’s sources of domination, injustice, inequality contained in a given conceptualization of political community in an attempt to eliminate them
  • Andrew Linklater: Men and Citizens
    • shows how state is exclusionary
    • distinguishes between ethical obligations owed to citizens v. others
    • shows how the balance has favored “citizens” over “men”
    • nation-states constitute particularistic communities
      • contain seeds of perpetual conflict/estrangement
    • how the existing order evolved, which interests are promoted/undermines, possibilities for change
    • “denaturalizes” the existing order; shows possibilities of change
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