Following growing academic interest and activism targeting gender bias in university curricula, we present the first analysis of female exclusion in a complete IR curriculum, across degree levels and disciplinary subfields. Previous empirical research on gender bias in the teaching materials of IR has been limited in scope, i.e. restricted to PhD curricula, non-random sampling, small sample sizes, or predominately US-focused. By contrast, this study uses an original dataset of 43 recent syllabi comprising the entire IR curriculum at the London School of Economics to investigate the gender gap in the discipline's teaching materials. We find evidence of bias that reproduces patterns of female exclusion: 79.2% of texts on reading lists are authored exclusively by men, reflecting neither the representation of women in the professional discipline nor in the published discipline. We find that level of study, subfield, and course convener gender and seniority matter. First, female author inclusion improves as the level of study progresses from undergraduate to PhD. This suggests the rigid persistence of a "traditional IR canon" at the earliest disciplinary stage. Second, the International Organisations/Law subfield is more gender-inclusive than Security or Regional Studies, while contributions from Gender/Feminist Studies are dominated by female authorship. These patterns are suggestive of gender-stereotyping within subfields. Third, female-authored readings are assigned less frequently by male and/or more senior course conveners. Tackling gender bias in the taught discipline must therefore involve a careful consideration of the linkages between knowledge production and dissemination, institutional hiring and promotion, and pedagogical practices.
This introduction presents the special issue’s conceptual and empirical starting points and situates the special issue’s intended contributions. It does so by reviewing extant scholarship on electoral rhetoric and foreign policy and by teasing out several possible linkages between elections, rhetoric and foreign policy. It also discusses how each contribution to the special issue seeks to illuminate causal mechanisms at work in these linkages. Finally, it posits that these linkages are crucial to examining the changes brought about by Trump’s election and his foreign policy rhetoric.
Ideational variables have frequently been employed in positivist-minded and materialist analyses of state behaviour. Almost inevitably, because of these commitments, such studies run into theoretical challenges relating to the use of ideas. In this article, I suggest that integrating ideational factors in positivist and materialist approaches to state behaviour requires: (1) distinguishing conceptually between interests and ideation as well as between individual beliefs and social ideas; and (2) addressing challenges of operationalisation and measurability. To that end, I employ neoclassical realism as a case study. I argue that a re-conceptualisation of ideas as externalised individual beliefs employed in political deliberation allows neoclassical realists to focus on how ideas and ideational competition intervene in the transmission belt from materially given interests to foreign policy choice. At the same time, it more clearly operationalises ideas as identifiable in language and communication. I suggest this reconceptualisation, while consistent with realist paradigmatic assumptions, need not be limited to neoclassical realism. Instead, transposed to different paradigms, it would similarly allow positivist-minded constructivists and institutionalists to avoid a conceptually and methodologically awkward equation of different ideational factors.
This article conceptualises the production of foreign policy bullshit in electoral contexts as a result of contending incentives towards ambiguity and specificity. Candidates must speak to widely divergent, even contradictory, policy ideas to maximise voter share in primaries and elections. At the same time, overly broad rhetoric or evasion risks signalling incompetence and unsuitability for office. Candidates are thus incentivized to hide the compromise character of their suggestions behind hyper-specific rhetoric. Following literature from philosophy and linguistics, this is a form of deception best captured by ‘bullshit’, that is, when the candidate simply does not care too much whether what they are saying matches with objective reality but does care that this inattention to truth is not known to the audience. This dynamic is illustrated in a case study on the 2015/2016 elections. Specifically, bipartisan support for a US-enforced no-fly zone in Syria cannot be explained by the tool’s likely utility and effectiveness. Instead, the tool’s value for many candidates lay in its effective communication of contradictory policy ideas. The tool allowed presidential hopefuls to appear resolute yet responsible, purposive yet pragmatic, idealist, and realist, while also signalling specificity and thus foreign policy expertise.
Buffer zones as a concept have a long history. Despite their frequent occurrence in international relations past and present, however, they have been treated in passing by scholars and policymakers alike, and then usually from a purely historical perspective. Their importance in conflict management, third-party intervention and power politics are not adequately mirrored in scholarly research. This article seeks to remedy this lapse by reintroducing the buffer zone as a tool of international conflict management in a new and systematic fashion. In this article, we survey buffer zones, their conceptual roots and characteristics, and illustrate our theoretical findings with an array of different examples-predominantly from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In so doing, we make three fundamental arguments about buffer zones.
Realism has long been criticized by global IR, but the former can contribute to the latter and thereby improve explanations of international relations. Global IR criticizes that realism supposedly applies universally, sidelines non-Western perspectives, and misunderstands much of foreign policy, grand strategy, and international affairs. Reviewing global IR’s case against realism, however, exposes avenues for realism to complement global IR. Realism can contribute to a more global understanding of international relations through its most recent variant: neoclassical realism (NCR). This newest realism allows for contextualization and historicization of drivers of state behavior. It can embrace and has already been engaging global questions and cases; global thought and concepts; and global perspectives and scholarship. Mapping 149 NCR publications produced by 96 scholars reveals a slow shift in knowledge production away from North America toward Europe and to a lesser extent Asia and Africa. Creative research designs and scholarly collaboration can put realism in fruitful conversation with global IR. This has implications for theory building and inclusive knowledge production in realism, global IR, and the wider discipline. Only when we discover new avenues for realists to travel can they contribute to a more global IR. In turn, when global IR scholars engage realism, they may be better able to address the Western versus non-Western dichotomies they challenge.
How do right-wing-populist incumbents navigate rhetorical strategic choices when they seek to manage external crises? Relevant literature has paid increasing attention to the role of ‘crisis’ in boosting the electoral success of right-wing populist candidates. We know a lot less about the rhetorical strategies used by right-wing populist incumbents seeking re-election. We draw on literatures on populism, crisis management and political rhetoric to conceptualize the rhetorical strategic choices of right-wing populist incumbents in times of crisis. We propose a framework for the choice of rhetorical strategy available to right-wing populist incumbents and illustrate it with a qualitative content analysis of Trump's tweets and White House press briefings during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic. We find limited rhetorical adaptation to crisis and high degrees of continuity with previous rhetoric grounded in right-wing populism. This challenges prevalent assumptions regarding the likelihood of incumbent rhetorical flexibility in the face of crisis.
This forum presents a snapshot of the current state of neoclassical realist theorizing. Its contributors are self-identified neoclassical realists who delineate their version of neoclassical realism (NCR), its scope, object of analysis, and theoretical contribution. From the standpoint of NCR, they contribute to and reflect on the “end of IR theory” debate. NCR has come under criticism for its supposed lack of theoretical structure and alleged disregard for paradigmatic boundaries. This raises questions as to the nature of this (theoretical) beast. Is NCR a midrange, progressive research program? Can it formulate a grand theory informed by metatheoretical assumptions? Is it a reformulation of neorealism or classical realism or an eclectic mix of different paradigms? The forum contributors argue that NCR, in different variants, holds considerable promise to investigate foreign policy, grand strategy and international politics. They interrogate the interaction of international and domestic politics and consider normative implications as well as the sources and cases of NCR beyond the West. In so doing, they speak to theorizing and the utility of the theoretical enterprise in IR more generally.
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