Alternative theories

Constructivism, Marxism and critical approaches

Authored by: Hayley Stevenson

Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415694209
eBook ISBN: 9780203799055
Adobe ISBN: 9781135090517


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This chapter surveys a diverse set of theoretical approaches that scholars draw upon to study global environmental politics. At a basic level, what unites these scholars is their dissatisfaction with the treatment of this subject by traditional theories of international relations (IR) (see Chapter 3). As Hovden (1999) and others have observed, traditional IR has approached environmental problems with the same set of interests, theoretical assumptions and methodological tools that they bring to the study of any other problem in international politics. The possibility that the specific nature of these problems may require a rethinking of these approaches has been overlooked by most within the field of global environmental politics. This chapter provides an overview of efforts to understand global environmental politics by venturing off the beaten track. The source of these scholars’ dissatisfaction is meta-theoretical, concerning ontology and epistemology.

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