Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 07:24 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 07:24 | SYDNEY


Andrew Carr


10 January 2012 10:45

In the links last week I highlighted a survey of US international relations (IR) scholars. One question particularly leapt out: 'Which of the following best describes your approach to the study of IR?'.

While a colleague has noted that you'll never hear the word 'constructivism' inside the walls of DFAT*, it is the most popular IR discipline. In some ways this isn't too surprising, as constructivism is a new field with high research energy. But given the traditional dominance of realism, and the return to great power studies that has accompanied China's rise this century, I would have expected many more realists.

It may be that some realists are hiding their ideological colours under the 'I don't have a paradigm' option, but given this is a group of experts being asked about their identification, we must assume they had some reasons for not selecting realism. It is also likely that many realists have shifted over into security studies rather than IR, narrowing the pool of IR realists, without affecting the number of realists who study international affairs. Still, it's noticeable that while realists dominate the big names in public, they are not doing as well inside the disciplinary walls.

* In Gyngell & Wesley's 2007 book 'Making Australian Foreign Policy', they found 68% of DFAT staff identify as realists.