Security Cooperation in International Relations
The study and theorisation of practices in world politics is gaining ever-greater
traction among International Relations (IR) scholars, leading to a progressive
research agenda of the so-called “practice turn”. But what exactly does it mean to
turn towards practices as a unit of analysis? Doing practice- based research in IR
means looking down on the mundane practices of practitioners to understand the
‘big picture’ of world politics. Accordingly, major IR themes such as war and
peace, state behaviour and diplomacy, but also power, identity and norms come to
be a matter of everyday practice, in which practical knowledge and the
performative aspect of politics are foregrounded.
The course first offers an overview of the main premises of the practice turn.
Students then learn about the different approaches towards conceptualising
practices, including Bourdieusian practice theory, Foucault’s disciplines and the
Communities of Practice approach. Given this broad church of practice
approaches, students critically investigate the promises and pitfalls of each
through applied case studies. Finally, students are introduced to a select number
of research strategies and methods to develop their own practice-based
perspectives of contemporary phenomena of global politics.
• Basic understanding of the concept of practice in social theory and IR
• Knowledge of and ability to differentiate among various practicetheoretical approaches in IR
• Ability to critically assess the value added of practice theory for the study
of world politics
• Ability to apply a particular practice approach to a case of the student’s
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