5 - Identification and international relations theory  pp. 105-127

Identification and international relations theory

By William Bloom

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In chapter 3, identification theory provided a methodological tool for investigating nation-building. Then in chapter 4, via the national identity dynamic, it was of some use in giving the mass national public a certain theoretical coherence in relation to foreign policy analysis. This chapter is now concerned with examining whether identification theory provides any useful insights into International Relations theory generally. The possibility that such an approach will be useful exists because identification theory:

  • 1 Puts forward a distinct theory of mass human behaviour and
  • 2 Defines a discrete social-psychological level of analysis.

The method of approach in this chapter will be to apply identification theory to what I take to be the three major areas of argument within International Relations. These are:

  • 1 Historians/classicists versus behaviouralists/scientists.
  • 2 Realists versus idealists.
  • 3 State-centrists versus structuralists/Marxists.

Although such a classification risks undue parsimony, it is actually imperative to attempt to classify International Relations; otherwise there exists the very real problem of never knowing where to start. This problem is due to the fact that, in one way or another, connections can be made between almost any form of human behaviour and issues in International Relations. All insights, pre-theories, theories and worldviews – psychological, social, economic and political – can be applied to International Relations.