International Relations as an Academic Pursuit (1972)

  • Kai Alderson
  • Andrew Hurrell


This collection has concentrated on the elaboration and development of the concept of international society. But the importance of this work should not obscure the breadth of Bull’s view of international relations as a field of study. He believed that it has a distinctive subject-matter but is not ‘in the full sense’ a subject; it has its own driving concerns and questions but, at the same time, must be open to a wide range of disciplinary and methodological approaches. He maintained this view consistently, arguing, for example in a lecture given in Oxford: ‘What is international relations? It is not a subject, only a subject-matter or field of inquiry. Some subjects are disciplines, but not IR or politics. It is a subject-matter to which one can apply various disciplines: history, philosophy, law, sociology, maths.’†


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  1. 9.
    See Martin Wight, ‘Why is there no International Theory?’ in H. Butterfield and M. Wight (eds), Diplomatic Investigations (London: Allen and Unwin, 1967), p. 33.Google Scholar
  2. 10.
    Klaus Knorr and James N. Rosenau (eds), Contending Approaches to International Politics (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    See, e.g., Graham T. Allison, Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis (Boston, Mass.: Little Brown, 1971). Here I refer to an unpublished paper by Allison and Halperin.Google Scholar
  4. 16.
    James N. Rosenau, Linkage Politics: Essays on the Convergence of National and International Systems (New York: Free Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  5. 18.
    Noam Chomsky, American Power and the New Mandarins (New York: Vintage Books, 1967), p. 325.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kai Alderson
  • Andrew Hurrell

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