Understanding the Practice Turn in International Relations

As in other branches of social science, practice theory is increasingly becoming a perspective developed to provide alternative accounts of social and political processes. What are the main approaches of practice theory useful in International Relations? What costs and benefits come along with these? And how can one translate practice theory into actual research projects? These are the questions that a new book written by ISRU member Christian Bueger together with Frank Gadinger from the University of Duisburg-Essen want to answer. The book titled “International Practice Theory. New Perspectives” kicks off with a clear cut overview of what practice theory is and how it differs from familiar accounts in IR, such as variants of rationalism and constructivism. Six approaches to international practice theory are then discussed in-depth. Approaches such as Pierre Bourdieu’s Praxeology, Etienne Wenger’s Community of Practice approach, or Actor-Network Theory are scrutinized with regards to their value for conducting international relations research. The book explores core puzzles of practice theory, such as the question of whether practices are mere routines, in an intelligible way and then proceeds in outlining the methodological consequences of the practice turn. Basic principles of doing practice-theory-driven research, research strategy and the spectrum of methods and techniques are discussed. Together the book presents and invaluable guide to practice theory and the way it is developed in International Relations. It is an introduction for newcomers to this social theory, but also a book that explicitly wants to offer a theoretical and methodological agenda spurring future research that bridges theory and empirics.  
 
Further information on the book can be found here. The book is available through all good booksellers.
 
Dr. Christian Bueger
Reader in International Relations

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