Theory, history, and great transformations

Reus-Smit, Christian (2016) Theory, history, and great transformations. International Theory, 8 3: 422-435. doi:10.1017/S1752971916000117

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Author Reus-Smit, Christian
Title Theory, history, and great transformations
Journal name International Theory   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1752-9727
Publication date 2016-11-01
Sub-type Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
DOI 10.1017/S1752971916000117
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 8
Issue 3
Start page 422
End page 435
Total pages 14
Place of publication Cambridge, United Kingdom
Publisher Cambridge University Press
Language eng
Formatted abstract
In International Relations arguments about historical origins provoke theoretical debates, as origins assume an emergent theoretical unit of inquiry - an international order, system, society, etc. - while at the same time defining its core properties and dynamics. By boldly casting the long 19th century as the origin of global modernity and, in turn, the modern international order, Buzan and Lawson's The Global Transformation challenges the romance with Westphalia that undergirds so much of our theorizing. Yet, the contributions to this symposium push deeper than usual, challenging established ways of conceiving change, and suggesting very different models of proper theorizing. While all of the papers ostensibly debate large-scale systems change, three modes of change are in contention: breakpoint, evolutionary, and processual. The further one pushes towards the latter, however, the more elusive the idea of 'system' becomes, eroding the fundamental boundary condition that undergirds the systemic mode of theorizing that dominates the field. Similarly, a persistent theme in these contributions is Buzan and Lawson's purported failure to theorize change. But instead of offering rival theories, contributors advance very different conceptions of theorizing, from pre-observational conceptualization to causal explanation. This not only challenges the field to reflect more systematically on the process of theorizing, but to acknowledge forms of theorizing that it currently brackets.
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Critical review of research, literature review, critical commentary
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Political Science and International Studies Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 3 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 9 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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