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  • 1.
    Friedner Parrat, Charlotta
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Tactical Warfare Division, Maritime Operations Section.
    Change in International Society: How Not to Recreate the 'First Debate' of International Relations2019In: International Studies Review, ISSN 1521-9488, E-ISSN 1468-2486Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    The English school of international relations is in large parts focused on the study of historical change; at the same time, however, it is remarkably unclear on how to understand change in between the idealist belief in progress and the realist eternal cycles of recurrence. This article seeks to avoid this dead end by questioning the school's understanding of change as a commonsensical concept. It is argued that change would be better understood as composed of three facets: one ontological (what is change?), one explanatory (what causes change?), and one normative (is change desirable?). This metatheoretical reconceptualization of change permits cross-checking the three facets against each other for internal coherence, but most importantly, it makes visible the underlying assumptions used to study change, so that ideas of history, causes, and normative ideals can be openly scrutinized, questioned, and defended rather than treated as self-evident. The resulting suggestion of an internally metatheoretically coherent understanding of change in international society signifies a much-needed addition to the English school tool-kit. It brings a promise of a significant metatheoretical overhaul of the theory, which, if taken up, will open up new horizons for the school. In addition, it opens up similar metatheoretical inquiries into other international relations theories’ views of change.

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