The English School

  • Created by: cat_ej
  • Created on: 15-11-18 13:49
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  • The English School
    • Represents an approach to the study of IR that reaches back to the 1950s
      • since 1990s: resurgence of interest in ES so much so that its increasingly though of as a distinctive position in IR
        • ES is seen as occupying the centre (along with construct'ism) in offering an amalgamation of different theories and concepts in IR
    • ES maintains scepticism towards the rigid application of scientific methods
      • Important voice in IR b/c it avoids the explanatory vs interpretive dichotomy
        • It claims to offer an account of IR which combines theory AND history, morality AND power, agency AND structure
          • The controversy underlying some of their interventions on methodology masked over a deeper and more sophisticated guide to the study of IR
    • Their interpretive approach rested on the following key points
      • THE SUBJECT MATTER  OF IR shouldn't be restricted to inter-state relations but to the global system as a whole
        • Particular emphasis has to be placed on theory b/c our understanding of the world is moderated by concepts and values
          • Belief: a great deal of knowledge will not be gained from framing testable hypotheses, the way positivists do.
      • HISTORICAL UNDERSTA-NDING is crucial to the study of IR
        • Knowing the USA has a strategic superiority over its rivals is less significant that whether it is a status quo power or a revisionist power
          • Revisionist States vs Status Quo States
            • Powerful and influential nations in IR such as the UK, France, USA, Japan etc that are better placed in the world order fall under the category of Status Quo
            • States like North Korea and Iran and other nations dissatisfied with their place in the int'l system are referred to *** Revisionist
        • They inform the selection of topics to be researched and taught, and therefore they need to be upfront and subjected to critical scrutiny
        • Values are not simply a matter for individual researchers; they are at the heart of the discipline
          • but this doesn't mean entering a world of 'ideal theory' with fictional ***umptions and make-believe states.
            • What matters are the ideas that practitioners believed in and how they tried to implement them
    • Writers are concerned with three main elements
      • System, (international) society, and world society.
        • It is important to remember however that rather than an understanding of theory as 'operational-ising' concepts and formulating 'testable' hypotheses
          • The emphasis on contending concepts is driven by a search for defining properties which mark the boundaries of different historical and normative orders
        • SYSTEM is defined by Bull as an arena where there is interaction between communities to the extent that 'the behaviour of each a necessary element in the calculations of the other'
          • The presence of an international system is therefore a vital prerequisite for international society, where shared rules and institutions come into being
        • INTER-NATIONAL SOCIETY comes into being when 'a group of states conscious of their common interests and values, form a society to bind themselves by a common set of rules in their relations with one another and share in the working of common institutions
          • Note: importance of the unique character of the membership (primarily sovereign states), importance of common interests , and the fact that the identity being a member sets to other states the expectation that they will follow the rules and uphold the values
          • International society needs to be understood as being a dynamic arrangement which is compatible with different ensembles of rules, values and institutions
            • At the more minimal end of the spectrum of int'l societies, we find an institutional arrangement that is restricted solely to the maintenance of order
              • In a pluralist int'l society, the institutional framework is geared towards the liberty of states and the maintenance of order among them
                • The rules of the game are compiled with, like the rules of the road, fidelity to them is relatively cost free but the collective benefits are enormous
          • At the more maximal end of the spectrum of int'l societies we find an institutional arrangement that desires a form of order that is also just (and not just tolerable or efficient)
            • Bull defined solidarist principles in terms of the collective enforcement of the rules and the guardship of human rights
              • In a solidarist int'l society, individuals are entitled to basic rights
                • This In urn demands that sovereignty norms are modified such that there is a duty on the members of int'l society to intervene forcibly to protect those rights
          • In addition to carefully delineating variations in the formation of international society, it is vital that ES theory continues to view the element of society as being in continuing tension with the elements of the states system and with world society
          • System-society distinction- able to shed light on actors who have considerable 'agency' but are not members of the society (major firms) and actors who are  members but don't want to follow the rules (revisionist states)
            • Also there is a great deal that can be gleaned from neo- or structural realist analysis of the distribution of capabilities in the system
              • How do such systematic agents and structures impinge upon international society
        • WORLD SOCIETY runs in parallel to international society albeit with one key difference- it refers to the shared interests and values among 'all parts of the human community'
          • With human rights at the centre of the meaning of world society, it is apparent that the membership is universal and the institutions are not the agents of state authority
    • Case Study: Human Rights
      • The extension of international law, which recognises the right of all individuals by virtue of their common humanity, rather than remaining locked in the logic of rights for citizens of sovereign states is one of the most significant normative shifts in the history of world politics
        • This indicates a move beyond a pluralist international society and its exclusive interest in the pursuit of order and the limitation of justice claims to demands by sovereign states to be treated equally
          • Nonetheless, human rights have been as much a source of division as a maker of the emergence of a solidarist international society
    • Writers often argue that the distinguishing power of ES rests on the significance it attaches to the idea that states through their actions as agents, have generated a society with its own unique institutions and rules
      • Hedley Bull's oxymoron: adorns the cover of the single most important book written by a member of the ES, states inhabit an anarchical


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