William & Mary

IR Theory & Practice: A Parting of the Ways

The latest Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) report provides interesting reading on the state of international relations as a discipline. In an interview with the ISN, TRIP co-author Michael Tierney discusses the popularity of constructivism within IR studies and the growing discrepancy between IR research and political reality.

In an excerpt from the interview, Tierney states, "In general, we see a slow decline in the number of scholars who associate with own research with one of the four main "textbook" isms of Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, and Marxism. As important, the most common answer to the question, "Which paradigm best describes your approach to the study of IR?" is: "I do not use paradigmatic analysis." Despite this fact, many scholars do place their research within one of these paradigmatic traditions. What we observe over the past 10 years of doing these surveys is the rise of constructivism and the decline of realism. Despite these results, IR scholars still teach the IR paradigms in their Intro IR courses in much larger numbers. In those courses Realism and Liberalism are the most prominent, by far. And, while there are few IR scholars who self-identify as Marxists in their own research, we still teach Marxism about as frequently as we teach constructivism." Read the full interview.