The Promise and Perils of Interpretivism in Australian International Relations

Published on Sep 1, 2014in Australian Journal of Public Administration1.311
· DOI :10.1111/1467-8500.12084
Ian Hall43
Estimated H-index: 43
(ANU: Australian National University)
Australian International Relations (IR) was once a hybrid of American and European styles of political science, but today it is dominated by a British-inspired post-positivism which has its virtues – and its vices – and which utilises various interpretive and semi-interpretive approaches. This paper welcomes the ‘interpretive turn’ in Australian IR, but recognises its weaknesses, and argues that, to overcome them, interpretivists must be clear about what interpretivism should and should not entail. It argues that a thoroughgoing interpretivism offers two things that qualitative work in Australian IR desperately needs: a revived focus on explaining international relations, as well as understanding it, and a renewed engagement with other fields and other modes of studying the field.
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