Alternative Theoretical Perspectives on US Foreign Policy

Authored by: Melodee Baines

The Ashgate Research Companion to US Foreign Policy

Print publication date:  December  2009
Online publication date:  March  2016

Print ISBN: 9780754648628
eBook ISBN: 9781315613727
Adobe ISBN: 9781317041177


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Alternative approaches to mainstream international relations are myriad and varied. They are not widely acknowledged as theories per se, if one agrees that a theory is a collection of hypotheses that attempts to explain a phenomenon and is falsifiable and parsimonious. Indeed, the assemblage of international relations (IR) approaches that are normally designated to be within the alternative realm range from positivist critique to post-positivist and can be normative or non-normative. They run the gamut from complementing to outright rejecting the realist/liberal orthodox views. Often such alternative approaches are best considered alongside IR theories, not necessarily as substitutes. Alternative IR assumes that mainstream IR is a “privileged subject to be liberated,” and proposes an epistemologically and ontologically method to emancipate it. 1 1

R. Spegele, “Emancipatory International Relations: Good News, Bad News or No News at All?,” International Relations, 16–3 (2002).

Alternative approaches rely heavily on epistemological and ontological methodology. Epistemology involves ways of knowing. Ontological premises feature the nature of the world, conceptions of the world and that which is perceived as existing.

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