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Misreading in IR Theory and ideology critique: Morgenthau, Waltz and neo-realism

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Hartmut Behr, Amelia Heath


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This article is interested in the hegemony which neo-realism accomplished during the second half of the 20th century in both the academic field and policy making of I/international R/relations. Our examination posits the argument that neo-realism can be seen as an ideology rather than a theory of international politics. While this view can connect to individual voices from the 1960s as well as to an emerging body of critical literature since the 1990s, we propose an ideology critique to explore this argument. To unfold this approach we will elaborate some neo-realist misreadings which we think manipulate intellectual history (among others, the writings of Hans J. Morgenthau) and represent an ideological impact intrinsic in the development of IR. An ideology critical approach – which is inherent in Morgenthau's thoughts on international theory themselves and thus helps to reveal profound discrepancies at the heart of an ostensible ‘realist’-neo-realist ‘unity’ – has, firstly, to problematise those discrepancies and, secondly, to focus on hegemonic strategies applied to ideologise and mainstream the academic field. The first part of such an agenda is what we present here; the second part is what we outline methodologically and suggest for further studies in, and of, IR.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Behr EH, Heath MA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Review of International Studies

Year: 2009

Volume: 35

Issue: 2

Pages: 327-349

ISSN (print): 0260-2105

ISSN (electronic): 1469-9044


DOI: 10.1017/S0260210509008547


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