Sociology and international relations: legacies and prospects

George Lawson, Robbie Shilliam

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    While sociological concepts have often been implicitly used in International Relations (IR), recent years have seen a more explicit engagement between IR and Sociology. As with any such interdisciplinary assignation, there are both possibilities and challenges contained within this move: possibilities in terms of reducing IR's intellectual autism and opening the discipline towards potentially fertile terrain that was never, actually, that distant; challenges in that interdisciplinary raiding parties can often serve as pseudonyms for cannibalism, shallowness and dilettantism. This forum reviews the sociological turn in IR and interrogates it from a novel vantage point - how sociologists themselves approach IR concepts, debates and issues. Three sociological approaches - classical social theory, historical sociology and Foucauldian analysis - are critically deployed to illuminate IR concerns. In this way, the forum offers the possibility of (re)establishing exchanges between the two disciplines premised on a firmer grasp of social theory itself. The result is a potentially more fruitful sociological turn, one with significant benefits for IR as a whole.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-86
    JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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