MetaTOC stay on top of your field, easily

Saving the Discipline: Plurality, Social Capital, and the Sociology of IR Theorizing

International Political Sociology

Published online on


For several decades, the field of International Relations theory has been preoccupied with its own methodological and theoretical plurality. As a consequence, IR scholars have proposed a range of different solutions to this “problem.” In doing so, they have drawn from different sources of social capital in the field, allowing them to base their legitimacy on the ways they relate to “progress” and the status quo. Drawing from Bourdieu's sociology, this article will explore five different strategies for “saving the discipline” and show how they relate to different kinds of scientific capital and power relations in the field. It will also explore the ways in which social conventions (such as politesse) can be used as tools for symbolic violence. The article will finish by arguing that rather than a problem to be resolved, plurality functions as an organizing principle regulating social power relations in the field.