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IR Working Paper 1991/4
Ian Bell, ‘Foreign Policy Analysis, International Relations Theory, and Social Theory: Critique and Reconstruction’, IR Working Paper 1991-4, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, June 1991.
The ‘subfield’ of Foreign Policy Analysis has moved from a relationship of creative tension with putatively ‘general’ theories of International Relations to one of cooption. Today the subfield is considered to be marking time, or even in relative decline. This paper reconsiders the key claims of contemporary foreign policy research in the light of some of the major sources of theoretical debate in the discipline of International Relations (IR). Clustered around the so-called ‘reflectivist’ or ‘critical’ international theory, these debates provide materials for contesting the key metatheoretical and substantive tendencies of both Foreign Policy Analysis and re-ascendant Realist theories of IR. The alternative conception of foreign policy research advanced aims to recapture the creative tension between Foreign Policy Analysis and more ‘general’ theories while resifting the debates to find a way of transcending both in the light of developments in critical international theory.