Nov 10, 2017 in Research

Critical Theories

          In terms of working on the presented research questions, much attention was paid to the theoretical framework presented by one of the most well-known ideologists of philosophy. Without a doubt, the heritage of Michel Foucault can be also applied in the context of international relations, as the author tends to describe the distinguishing characteristics of this realm. His paradigm is also embedded into a contemporary world. Moreover, it is worth admitting that the theoretical concepts of this scientist correspond to the vital basis of political realism – one of the fundamental theories of international relations that exist in the modern world. That is why the findings of Michel Foucault in the sphere of international relations and global politics cannot be underestimated under any pretext. Thus, the leading goal of this investigation is to critically analyze the particular features of the presented theoretical framework related the category of power and outline the hidden connection as well as interdependence between the notions of emancipation and resistance that also relate to the dimension of international negotiations between the states.

            According to the discourse of this French postmodernist, the power dominates in the present society. It is a vital category that dominates, rules, and regulates the relationships between the different categories of actors who pertain to the sphere of international relations (Brincat 2011). The essential features of Foucault’s analysis of power arises in the following context.

Power is everywhere – it is a major thesis of all of his fundamental works and main discussion concerning a political debate (Foucault 1991). As it was mentioned earlier, this theoretical framework resembles the concepts of political realism which also reveals the nature of power and might in the aspect of country’s ability to influence the economic, political, or social politics of the neighboring states (Gaventa 2003). However, Michel Foucault proposed a revolutionary vision of the criteria of power in the dimension of international relations and political science (Rengger and Thirkell-White 2008). He neglected the usage of power as a coercive method of impact. Moreover, this researcher remarked that only a natural power reveals the personality and makes other people what they are. As a result, this statement was subjected to the severe criticism (Roach 2010). Besides, the modern epoch as well as the recent tendencies of the 21st century demonstrates the applicability of these concepts in ordinary practice.

            Michel Foucault also rejected the idea that power is created by people or sovereign actors of international relations. According to the approach of this postmodernist, power serves as an instrumental tool only when it is born in a natural manner and comes from the interdependence between the different states (Roach 2007). It is worth admitting that this scientist interpreted the conception of power not only in a negative manner. He states that this category can be both negative and positive at the same time. In other words, a coercive or repressive nature of power can transform into necessary and even productive force of international relations. As a result, this vision of power in the context of political science can be treated as a significant characteristic of the contemporary society. Furthermore, his analysis of power applies to the international realm and can be highlighted as a quotidian feature at the international arena. It means that the mentioned-above characteristics permit to apply the term of power to the international realm.

Having also researched the conceptions of emancipation and resistance in the context of international relations, it is worth outlining that these categories correspond to the theoretical framework examined not only by Michel Foucault but also by Herbert Marcuse and Carl Marx (Brincat 2011). These ideologies agreed to some extent with the French postmodernist but also succeeded in proposing an original vision of these terms. Michel Foucault recurred to the thesis that the notion of resistance lacks the aspect of emancipation in its interpretation (Rengger and Thirkell-White 2008). It appears that the ideology could not meet the basic requirements of the society regarding the issue of self-expression and the expression of a free will. Subsequently, such paradigm engenders a societal conflict which divides the community into two hostile parts. Nowadays the experts admit the politicization of security in the study of international relations. It signifies that a noticeable imbalance plays a noticeable role in ordinary practice (Roach 2007). This logic of exclusion can be perceived from the position of a certain type of totalization and even violence that dominates in the actual days. Owing to this imbalance, the critique also concerns an emancipatory version of security in terms of political science. Consequently, it leads to the development of radical tendencies and the appearance of controversies related to the ideological vision of a vital nation of international relations on a daily basis (Brownlie 2006). The following argument also corresponds to the fact that emancipation is often treated as a systematic engagement that is rather close to the categories of reality and power, while the concept of resistance tends to provoke a societal debate and lead to some differences in people’s consciousness. Unfortunately, the idea of emancipation is becoming less significant or appropriate in the context of the modern theoretical framework that the concept of resistance (Wyn Jones 2000). It does not correspond to the actual realities of any political entity or societal group. As a result, it can be remarked that the notion of resistance is becoming more crucial, and it gains much popularity among the diverse groups of the population.

To conclude, it is essential to highlight that the presented examination provides a deep understanding of the theoretical framework proposed by Michel Foucault. The heritage of this French postmodernist cannot be minimized under any circumstances, as he strived for describing an initial nature of power in terms of international relations and political theory. Moreover, the analysis of power underline of this author promotes a critical and contemporary vision of this category that also can be applied in the modern society. The other discussed conceptions which related to the notions of emancipation and resistance are called to describe the security process and outline its particular features. As a result, this image of power in the study of international relations and global politics represents a profound comprehension of some vital categories related to this sphere.


Reference List

Brownlie, D 2006, Emancipation, Epiphany and Resistance: On the Underimagined and Overdetermined in Critical Marketing, Cambridge University Press.

Brincat S. et al. 2011, Critical Theory in International Relations and Security Studies, Routledge.

Gaventa, J 2003, Power after Lukes: a review of the literature, Fayard.

Foucault, M 1991, Discipline and Punish: the birth of a prison, Cambridge University Press.

Rengger, N and Thirkell-White, T 2008, Critical International Relations Theory After 25 Years, Cambridge University Press.

Roach, S 2010, Critical Theory of International Relations, Routledge.

 Roach, S 2007, Critical Theory and International Relations, Routledge.

 Wyn Jones, R 2000, Critical Theory and World Politics, Lynne Rienner.

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