For a Public International Relations

International Political Sociology

Author/s (editor/s):

George Lawson

Publication year:


Publication type:

Journal article

Find this publication at:
Oxford University Press

George Lawson, ‘For a Public International Relations’, International Political Sociology, 2(1) 2008: 17-37.

The last few years have seen an opening up of what is considered to be the legitimate terrain of international relations (IR). This move is, for the most part, extremely welcome. Yet, the multiple theoretical and empirical openings in IR since the end of the Cold War have failed to elucidate many of the puzzles, questions and problems posed by the contemporary conjuncture. There are a number of reasons for this failure ranging from the stickiness of Cold War problem fields to IR’s continued attachment to systemic-level theories. However, this article focuses less on symptoms than on treatment and, in particular, on how generating a more “public” international relations enterprise might help to connect IR with the core theoretical, empirical and normative terrain of “actually existing” world politics. Taking its cue from recent debates in sociology about how to generate a “public sociology,” the article lays out three pathologies that a public IR enterprise should avoid and four ground rules—amounting to a manifesto of sorts—which sustain the case for a “public” international relations.

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