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To conclude the course of critical approaches to international relations

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Why a course on critical approaches to international business?[edit | edit source]

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International relations" is not an obvious, indisputable or even obvious object of study. This is one approach among others, the international world is so complex that it is only one type of problem. The question of any researcher and what problem is being asked. Often, the question is more important than the answer. It is important to ask the right questions. To be able to question the world is a much more important act to some extent, but that does not mean that there is no weight. Forgetting to ask questions is perhaps the worst thing that can happen. A doctrinal discourse is a positive response. To some extent, the answer may be a denial of questioning. Meyer shows that in positive social sciences, the danger is to adopt answers that erase the social world. A response that to plausibilities may tend to erase other questions about the war or about the response itself.

The thing to understand is that the question is not to choose an approach, but to question things and problematize them. Critical approaches do not mean that there are critics and others, but this must make it possible to infuse any kind of approach, it is a form of intellectual humility. As Chris Brown says in Understanding International Relations[9] published in 2005, these different questions are part of a "constant interplay between the'real world' and the world of knowledge". In international relations, the dominant vision of this game is naturalizing essentializing insofar as we will be ahistorical and asociological in relation to the units, but also in relation to the processes that we will try to explain.

The critique[edit | edit source]

There are different types of possibilities. It is necessary to understand the phenomena as a specific resultant and to understand why this resultant was achieved and how other results can be achieved. Calhoun shows that criticism is a recognition that the current state of the world does not exhaust all possibilities for social action.

For Calhoun in Critical Social Theory[10] published in 1995, it is necessary to offer a"" reading of the historical and cultural conditions (both social and personal) on which the intellectual activity of a[researcher] depends". Security advisors in the United States were often academics. It is necessary to understand the production of the social world through actors who are professionals. There is also a need for "a continuous re-examination of the constituent categories and conceptual frameworks by which a[researcher] understands, including a historical construction of these frameworks". A critical approach seeks to understand the tools to make sense and see their contingencies in order to place them back in their origin and constructions. Concepts are also tools of power to influence others. It is also about making "a'confrontation' with the hidden and unsupported theoretical assumptions that determine how the world is understood". There is a world view that is not said, but is at the heart of certain practices and discourses.

Against reification[edit | edit source]

Reification is the idea of making one thing one thing one thing. In Reification: A Recognition-Theoretical View published in 2007, Honneth reports the words of Lukács for whom reification is to transform "a relationship between people takes the character of a thing".

From a Marxist perspective, fetishism is the act of entering into a social relationship with all those who have contributed to the creation, production and sale of the object. It is the idea of entering and participating in a social relationship, but also of accepting a way of functioning. Buying something is not innocent. In Le Capital de Karl Marx published in 1867, for producers, it appears that "the relationships of their private works appear as they are, that is, not as immediate social relationships of people in their own work, but rather as social relationships between things".

A critical report is someone who realizes what they are doing. Exchanging may be buying different reflecting in terms of "what this represents". Producing involves the person as a producer. We must ask ourselves how to reify the object.

For Robert Elias in What is Sociology? published in 1978, "many names used in the social sciences - and in our everyday language - are formed and used as if they refer to material things, objects visible and tangible in time and space, existing independently of people". A state is a social construction, an imaginary a multitude of bodies, organizations and individuals that represent it. The danger is to think of concepts and give them a life that erases the multiplicity of social relationships.

Contre l'apparence de la nécessité[edit | edit source]

On ne peut penser les théories comme étant neutres, mais cela ne veut dire qu’elles ont un rapport à l’objectivité qui nous entour et un pouvoir de compression et d’explication du monde qui nous entour. Ce n’est pas parce qu’on a une vision dominante qu’elle est la plus pertinente et ce n’est pas qu’elle explique mieux. Les approches en relations internationales sont souvent eurocentrées.

Pour Cox dans Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory publié en 1981, « theory is always for someone and for some purpose ». C’est-à-dire qu’il faut placer les concepts dans une sociologie de la connaissance. Cox différencie le « problem-solving » qui prend le monde tel qu’il semble être en fournissant des approches explicatives, d’avec les « critical theory ». Ainsi, il est important de distinguer les « discours que l’on porte sur » et les « processus » sociaux, politiques, économiques effectifs.

Oppression and domination[edit | edit source]

Oppression is not domination. It is only one possible, but not necessary, dimension. It's about keeping people from expressing themselves. In Justice and the Politics of Difference

published in 1990, Young highlights that oppression consists of systematic institutional actions and/or processes that prevent some people from learning and using skills[relational, e.g. self-esteem/relationship to others; satisfying and expansive skills] in socially recognized environments, or institutionalized social processes that hinder people's ability to engage and communicate with others or to express their feelings and perspectives about social life in contexts where others can hear. Young describes domination as "institutional conditions that impede or prevent people from participating in the determination of their actions or the conditions of their actions. People live in structures of domination if other people or groups can determine the conditions of their actions without reciprocity, either directly or by virtue of the structural consequences of their actions. Full (thorough) social and political democracy is the opposite of domination.

The central idea of domination is that there is no reciprocity, we say for the other what he must be, we structure the other in what he must think and what he must become. Just because a person wants to make a difference doesn't mean they can.

The domination[edit | edit source]

When we talk about domination, there are two fundamental elements. In Sur l’État of Pierre Bourdieu published in 2012

the State" is the legitimizing body par excellence, which ratifies, solemnizes, registers acts or persons, making it obvious that the divisions or classifications it establishes are self-evident. ...] The State is not merely an instrument of coercion, but an instrument of production and reproduction of consensus, charged with moral regulation... this organ of moral discipline[which is the State] is not at the service of anyone, but rather serves the dominant ones. The State is to a large extent a reflection of these relationships of domination.

In De la critique. Précis de sociologie de l'émancipation published in 2009, Boltanski talks about domination, which "is not directly observable and is also, in most cases, beyond the consciousness of the actors. The domination must be revealed. It does not speak for itself and hides itself in devices whose obvious forms of power constitute only the most superficial dimension [....] Everything therefore happens as if the actors were undergoing the domination that is exercised over them not only without their knowledge, but sometimes even by contributing to its exercise.

A naïve vision of post-colonialism is to think that it is simply the imposition of one vision on another. Studies show how the colonized has accommodated a form of power and domination because local elites have allied themselves with the colonizer to manage a territory. We are all actors of domination.

The danger of doxa[edit | edit source]

Bourdieu parle des dangers de la doxa dans Sur l’État publié en 2012. Pour lui, « Les profanes sont aussi en danger de faire confiance. Si mon entreprise est réussie, ils doivent trouver tout ça très naturel et, parfois, se demander pourquoi je pose de manière si pathétique des problèmes qu'ils trouvent très simples, une fois que je les ai formulés [...] Ce danger est un effet, paradoxalement, du cela-va-de-soi. Ayant dit: je vais dénoncer [le fait] que cela va de soi, je produis un autre effet de cela-va-de-soi, un effet de naturel qui peut être accueilli à son tour comme une sorte de doxa. [...] Ce sentiment de déjà vu et de déjà connu, que je ne stigmatise pas, mais que j'explicite, est une protection contre l'effort de pensée qu'il faut faire dans toutes les sciences, et spécialement en sociologie, pour être à la hauteur de ce qu'on a déjà pensé ».

Faire des approches critiques est être dans un rapport de distanciation, de critique par rapport à soi et d’écoute par rapport à d’autres.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Boltanski, L. (2009) De la critique. Précis de sociologie de l'émancipation. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Bourdieu, P. (2012) Sur l'État. Cours au Collège de France 1989-1992. Paris: Seuil.
  • Brown, C. with Kirsten Ainley (2005). Understanding International Relations. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 3rd ed. revised and updated.
  • Calhoun, C. (1995). Critical Social Theory. London: Blackwell Publishing.
  • Cox, R. W. (1981). Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory. Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 10(2), 126–155.
  • Elias, N. (1978) What is Sociology? New York: Columbia University Press.
  • Honneth, A. (2007[2005]) La réification. Petit traité de théorie critique. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Marx, K. (1968[1867]) Le Capital. Livre 1. Paris: Gallimard.
  • Young, I. M. (1990) Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

References[edit | edit source]