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Historical sociology in international relations: open society, research programme and vocation

By George Lawson


Over the last 20 years, historical sociology has become an increasingly conspicuous part of the broader field of International Relations (IR) theory, with advocates making a series of interventions in subjects as diverse as the origins and varieties of international systems over time and place, to work on the co-constitutive relationship between the international realm and state–society relations in the processes of radical change. However, even as historical sociology in IR (HSIR) has produced substantial gains, so there has also been a concomitant watering down of the underlying approach itself. As a result, it is no longer clear what exactly HSIR entails: should it be seen as operating within the existing pool of available theories or as an attempt to reconvene the discipline on new foundations? This article sets out an identifiable set of assumptions and precepts for HSIR based on deep ontological realism, epistemological relationism, a methodological free range, and an overt normative engagement with the events and processes that make up contemporary world politics. As such, HSIR can be seen as operating as an open society, a research programme and a vocation

Topics: JZ International relations, HM Sociology
Year: 2007
DOI identifier: 10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800195
OAI identifier:
Provided by: LSE Research Online

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