Handbook of Critical International Relations
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Handbook of Critical International Relations

Edited by Steven C. Roach

Comprising a plurality of perspectives, this timely Handbook is an essential resource for understanding past and current challenges to democracy, justice, social and gender equality, identity and freedom. It shows how critical international relations (IR) theory functions as a broad-based and diverse critique of society.
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Chapter 6: Critical realism in international relations

Ben Luongo


This chapter discusses the contributions that critical realism can make to the international relations (IR) discipline. Critical realism requires researchers to take ontology seriously, since ontological presumptions condition the research they underpin. Much of IR research, however, has been conducted within the discipline’s empiricist orthodoxy and tends to ignore ontological issues. A shift towards ontology may provide new and insightful ways to research IR. The chapter begins by discussing the limits of the discipline’s empiricist orthodoxy and then moves into discussing critical realism. From there, the chapter discusses how the IR discipline can benefit from a critical realist perspective. In doing so, it aims to explore the new ways of conceptualizing the role of the individual in world politics.

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