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Interpreting International Politics

By Cecelia Lynch

Routledge – 2013 – 114 pages

Series: Routledge Series on Interpretive Methods

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    December 17th 2013
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    December 11th 2013


Interpreting International Politics addresses each of the major, "traditional" subfields in International Relations: International Law and Organization, International Security, and International Political Economy. But how are interpretivist methods and concerns brought to bear on these topics? In this slim volume Cecelia Lynch focuses on the philosophy of science and conceptual issues that make work in international relations distinctly interpretive. This work both legitimizes and demonstrates the necessity of post- and non-positivist scholarship.

Interpretive approaches to the study of international relations span not only the traditional areas of security, international political economy, and international law and organizations, but also emerging and newer areas such as gender, race, religion, secularism, and continuing issues of globalization. By situating, describing, and analyzing major interpretive works in each of these fields, the book draws out the critical research challenges that are posed by and the progress that is made by interpretive work. Furthermore, the book also pushes forward interpretive insights to areas that have entered the IR radar screen more recently, including race and religion, demonstrating how work in these areas can inform all subfields of the discipline and suggesting paths for future research.


"A major triumph—and an essential text. Lynch not only demystifies interpretivism and illuminates its longstanding presence in IR and contributions across the discipline’s subfields, but also presents original–and urgently needed–work on race and religion in international politics. The text’s exceptional clarity and accessibility will please students, facilitate teaching, and impress scholars; hence, a welcome and timely addition to IR."

—V. Spike Peterson, The University of Arizona

"This impressive book comprehensively surveys the contribution interpretive scholarship has made to the discipline of International Relations. Furthermore, it critically evaluates how a range of interpretivist concerns have been pushing forward the boundaries of our theoretical, conceptual, and empirical knowledge across a range of IR's established and emerging subfields."

—Oliver Daddow, University of Leicester

"In Interpreting International Politics, Cecelia Lynch compellingly illustrates the intellectual and political importance of interpretivism in all areas of International Relations (IR) while documenting both the longstanding and the contemporary achievements of interpretivist IR. This excellent volume is a ‘must read’ both for those teaching and studying interpretivist IR and for those conducting interpretivist IR research."

—Jutta Weldes, University of Bristol


Introduction 1. Interpretive Concepts, Goals and Processes in International Relations 2. Interpreting International Security 3. Interpreting International Political Economy 4. Interpreting International Organization and Law 5. Race, Religion, Histories and Futures of International Relations. Concluding Thoughts: Politics and Engagement in International Relations.

Author Bio

Cecelia Lynch is a professor in the department of political science at the University of California, Irvine. She is one of the original members of the "Methods Cafes" at the American Political Science Association, a forum for discussing interpretive methodologies and acted as a faculty mentor at the NSF-funded Interpretive Methods and Methodologies workshop. Lynch is the author of the award-winning book, Beyond Appeasement: Interpreting Interwar Peace Movements in World Politics, and co-editor of Law and Moral Action in World Politics and On Rules, Politics and Knowledge: Friedrich Kratochwil, International Relations, and Domestic Affairs.

Name: Interpreting International Politics (Paperback)Routledge 
Description: By Cecelia Lynch. Interpreting International Politics addresses each of the major, "traditional" subfields in International Relations: International Law and Organization, International Security, and International Political Economy. But how are interpretivist...
Categories: Political Research Methods, International Relations, Critical Theory, International Organizations, International Law, International Relations Theory, International Political Economy, International Security