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date: 18 November 2017

Summary and Keywords

The question of theoretical dominance has been the source of longstanding debates in the field of International Relations (IR). The folklore of the field tells of how realism fell from dominance and was replaced by liberalism in the 1990s. The systematic evidence, however, shows that neither theory was as dominant as many claimed. While the early period of postwar IR was dominated by realism, the past 35 years can be characterized by its plurality of theories. This plurality of theories, however, may not reflect a diverse field. Diversity denotes some degree of variation within an interacting community or system. Meaningful interactions between distinct research sects in IR appear to be very rare, as characterized by the so-called paradigm wars. Instead of a diverse field, IR may be characterized as insular, Balkanized sects that are hostile to differing theories and approaches.

Keywords: theoretical diversity, theoretical dominance, normal science, realism, liberalism, constructivism, paradigm wars, empirical international relations theory

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