This chapter takes a step back from the three usual approaches to IPE (economic nationalist, liberal, critical) to consider how IPE fits with other fields of study, what kinds of methods can be used in IPE and where the field is going in theoretical terms. We also outline the approach we have taken in writing the book. A review of the teaching and study of IPE in the 1990s identified both continuities and change in the issues considered important by scholars (Denemark and O’Brien, 1997). Some issues, such as the impact of TNCs, international finance and international trade, have remained central to the core issues covered in IPE courses. The centrality given to issues such as Third World development or North-South conflict has varied considerably over the past three decades. Meanwhile, issues such as East-West relations, energy and the impact of producer cartels have vanished to be replaced by a focus on environmental concerns and gender. In terms of a broad overview of the international political economy, analysis has shifted from a concern with interdependence to an obsession with globalization. To situate the study of IPE among other subjects, it is useful to make some preliminary comments about the organization of knowledge in the social sciences. Although Western knowledge and universities are separated into distinct subjects, fields and departments, this was not always the case. Before 1900, intellectuals often worked in a number of different fields that would not fit into today’s compartments.
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