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About this book

While paradigm-bound research has generated powerful insights in international relations, it has fostered a tunnel vision that hinders progress and widens the chasm between theory and policy. In this important new book, Sil and Katzenstein draw upon recent scholarship to illustrate the benefits of a more pragmatic and eclectic style of research.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Analytic eclecticism

Abstract
In a Washington Post column titled’ scholars on the sidelines,’ Joseph Nye (2009) has lamented the growing gap between theory and policy in the field of international relations: ‘Scholars are paying less attention to questions about how their work relates to the policy world.…ment comes faster for those who develop mathematical models, new methodologies or theories expressed in jargon that is unintelligible to policymakers.’ Nye’s fears are not unfounded. In fact, they are a stark reminder of the truth of Charles Lindblom’s and David Cohen’s (1979) observation made exactly three decades before: that there is a persistent chasm between what ‘suppliers’ of social research offer and what the prospective ‘users’ of this research seek. One reason for this has to do with the excessive compartmentalization of knowledge in the social sciences, and particularly in the field of international relations. Simply put, too much of social scientific research in the academe is divided across, and embedded within, discrete approaches that we often refer to as ‘paradigms’ or ‘research traditions.’ Paradigm-bound research provides powerful insights, but in the absence of complementary efforts to compare and integrate insights from multiple paradigms, the latter can become a ‘hindrance to understanding,’ as Albert Hirschman (1970) noted long ago.
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein

Chapter 2. Eclecticism, pragmatism, and paradigms in international relations

Abstract
Since its inception in the early twentieth century, the field of international relations has been divided by enduring and evolving fault lines between proponents of realism and idealism, of behaviorism and traditionalism, of neoliberalism and neorealism, and of rationalism and constructivism. Beginning with the publication of Kuhn’s (1962) book on scientific revolutions, it has been fashionable to think of these contending schools of thought as paradigms. In fact, recent surveys conducted by the Project on Teaching, Research, and International Practice (TRIP) indicate that the vast majority of scholars worldwide continue to view international relations scholarship as dominated by paradigmatic analysis. In the 2006 survey of 1,112 scholars in the United States and Canada, respondents indicated that over 80 percent of the international relations literature is devoted to scholarly studies based on one paradigm or another (Maliniak et al. 2007, p. 16). This pattern continued to be evident in the 2008 survey, which included responses from 2,724 scholars from the United States and nine other countries. American respondents estimated that non-paradigmatic scholarship accounted for just 11 percent of the literature, while estimates from respondents in other countries ranged anywhere from 6 percent of the literature in South Africa to 13 percent in Ireland (Jordan et al. 2009, p. 41).
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein

Chapter 3. War and peace, security and insecurity

Abstract
For millennia, wars have been an intrinsic aspect of human existence. But wars also change. In the past, they were fought between empires and tribes, villages and kingdoms. In the modern era they have been fought largely by sovereign states. During the Cold War military strategists came to regard crisis, particularly in the relations between the two nuclear superpowers, as the functional equivalent of war. The 1990s certainly saw its share of collective violence, but there were virtually no traditional wars between sovereign states. And in the wake of 9/11, President George W. Bush sought to rally the American nation to wage ‘war’ on a more nebulous enemy -terror. This was a call to arms, but without the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ that Churchill had asked for at the onset of the Second World War.
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein

Chapter 4. Global political economy

Abstract
The multiple causes of the deep crisis of the global economy, which exploded for all to see with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, will be debated for years. Consumers in the United States had convinced themselves, and been convinced by financial institutions and the media, that the price of real estate could only go up and not down. Like their credit cards, their homes became a functional substitute for the welfare state. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, as a matter of social policy, the federal government sought to make home ownership available to a steadily growing number of Americans — even for those who lacked sufficient assets to make their monthly mortgage payments. Financial institutions fed the growing real estate bubble with new products that artificially reduced rather than accurately reflected the risks they incurred. After the bursting of the dot-com technology bubble and the Enron accounting scandal had receded from public consciousness, the administration of President George W. Bush decided to push hard for further deregulation. Subsequently economic incentives in the financial service and banking industries increasingly rewarded short-term investment strategies that turned out to be reckless in the extreme.
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein

Chapter 5. Order and governance, regional and global

Abstract
The contemporary study of world politics consists of more than the analysis of security and political economy and the focus on states and markets in world politics. States are both too big for some tasks and too small for others. Markets are both spontaneous and constructed. And the international system shows both great continuity and dramatic, often unexpected change. Some of the most interesting processes in current world politics evolve beyond, around, and in between states, markets, and the international system.
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein

Chapter 6. Conclusion

Abstract
In this concluding chapter we consider the lessons of the various examples of analytic eclecticism discussed in Chapters 3 to 5. Drawing on only some of these studies for purpose of illustration, we emphasize the similar ways in which authors have posed their problems, developed their arguments, and engaged the issue of practical relevance. We also consider in passing how the substantive issues tackled by some of these authors might be problematized and analyzed in paradigm-bound scholarship. In the second part of the chapter we offer a discussion of the professional risks and trade-offs of eclectic scholarship for individual scholars, acknowledging the difficulties of sustaining eclectic research in an institutional environment in which scholarly assessments and professional advancement frequently require standards to be established on the basis of paradigmatic assumptions and boundaries. Considering the track record of conventional scholarship in generating practically useful knowledge about international affairs (Nye 2009), we emphasize the importance of accepting and encouraging eclectic work alongside paradigm-driven research. Our view is in broad agreement with a proliferation of arguments in favor of eclectic styles of reasoning in other subfields of political science, in other disciplines, and in various historical or practical contexts.
Rudra Sil, Peter J. Katzenstein
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