Nov 10, 2017 in Research

Critical Theories: Ideas of Emancipation and Resistance in International Relations

 In the study of international relations is the idea of ‘emancipation’ more appropriate than the notion of ‘resistance’?

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 is called to describe an initial nature of emancipation and resistance in the sphere of international relations and political theory. Moreover, the analysis of these conceptions promotes a critical and contemporary vision of the categories that can be applied in the modern society.



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.

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

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

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


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