Repository logo

IR Theory as International Practice/Agency: A Clinical-Cynical Bourdieusian Perspective

Accepted version



Change log


Hamati-Ataya, Inanna  ORCID logo


jats:p Adopting a reflexive, praxeological understanding of science that rejects the objectivist epistemic antinomy of theory and practice, this article offers two complementary Bourdieusian readings of International Relations theory that specifically aim to conceptualise the structural position of ‘periphery’ scholars, as well as their extant and potential ‘space of possibilities’ in the discipline. Grounded in a sociological appraisal of International Relations, the ‘clinical’ approach objectivates International Relations as a field of international practice wherein the production of theoretical knowledge results from the meeting of different socio-academic habitus and their associated positions with the objective structures of International Relations and the international system. It highlights the relation between International Relations theory and the structural (dis)positions of its authors, the conditions that allow some theories to be objectively possible, meaningful, structuring representations of the world, and the structural constraints imposed on International Relations theorists. The ‘cynical’ approach suggests how a ‘clinical’ understanding of International Relations can help marginalised, ‘periphery’ scholars make sense of their ‘space of possibilities’ within the discipline, and develop a praxeological, reflexive attitude that could turn them into efficient international agents capable of promoting different scholarly perspectives. More specifically, the article argues that their non-native habitus is a potentially subversive capital – and hence a potential agency of structural change. </jats:p>



Bourdieu, International Relations theory, practice

Journal Title

Millennium: Journal of International Studies

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



SAGE Publications