Something old, something new, something borrowed: rerepresentations of anarchy in International Relations theory

Holmes, Marcus
May 2011
International Relations of the Asia-Pacific;May2011, Vol. 11 Issue 2, p279
Academic Journal
There are many stories to be told regarding the development of International Relations (IR) theory in the United States over the last century. Some have pointed out IR's evolutionary properties, emphasizing the debates that have produced fitter theory with empirical reality. Others have argued that the development has been largely scientific with knowledge built hierarchically through time. In this article, I propose an alternative view of American IR's development. Specifically, I argue that IR theory is best understood through heterarchical organization, with core ideas and concepts rerepresented in new ways, and various levels of analysis, over time. In making this argument I trace duel processes of borrowing ideas from other disciplines and rerepresenting those ideas in new forms in order to solve vexing theoretical problems. The article demonstrates how conceptions of anarchy have been significantly affected by other disciplines and relates those conceptions to views of international security both at home and abroad, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.


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