Bridging the transatlantic divide?

Toward a structurational approach to international political economy

Authored by: Philip G. Cerny

Routledge Handbook of International Political Economy (IPE)

Print publication date:  February  2009
Online publication date:  June  2009

Print ISBN: 9780415771269
eBook ISBN: 9780203881569
Adobe ISBN: 9781135984014


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The contrast drawn by Cohen between “American” and “British” international political economy (Cohen 2007) is based on a partially false dichotomy. On the one hand, these discrepancies are not specific to IPE, nor are they merely transatlantic, as Cohen observes in this volume. They reflect deep, ever-present paradigmatic divergences within the social sciences in general, and political science in particular. The social sciences have never been dominated by the kind of hegemonic paradigms Kuhn found in the natural sciences. The philosophy of social science, like political philosophy, is characterized by multiple, competing paradigms (Kuhn 1962; Wolin 1968). On the other hand, however, the re-emergence of these divergences within IPE reflects not merely old philosophical and methodological disputes but also the special role of the core subject-matter of international political economy in the twenty-first century. At one level, IPE today represents the latest instantiation of old divergences. Yet the consequences are exceptionally significant because of the increasingly high profile IPE is taking within the social sciences as the result of its claim to offer unique insights into the most significant transformation taking place in the world today—globalization.

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