The 'English School' in China: A Story of How Ideas Travel and are Transplanted

Author/s (editor/s):

Yongjin Zhang

Publication year:


Publication type:

Working paper

Find this publication at:
IR Working Paper 2000-4

International Relations (IR) as an academic discipline in China has just grown out of its teens. In the last 20 years, Chinese scholars have been increasingly brought into global communication about and production and consumption of ideas, concepts, methods and theories of what Ole Waever calls 'a not so international discipline'. The emerging epistemic community of IR in China has been shaped by its engagement with what is purported to be 'Western theories'. In this paper, I tell the story of how the English School (ES) as a non-mainstream approach to theorising about IR has travelled to China. I examine how ideas closely associated with the ES have influenced the IR theoretical discourse in China to date. I argue that as a non-American approach, the influence that the ES has achieved in China's IR studies is noteworthy. That helps validate the global claim of the ES. I offer sociological explanations of why and how the intellectual hegemony of American studies of IR has been reproduced in China and how ideas travel across borders. This is an essay about the sociology of knowledge as much as the growth of IR as an academic discipline in China.

Updated:  2 February 2023/Responsible Officer:  Bell School Marketing Team/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team