Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Contact Details of Convenors 

Charles Jones
Email: caj26@cam.ac.uk

Richard Little
Email: r.little@bris.ac.uk

John Williams
Email: j.c.williams@durham.ac.uk

English School: Theory Working Group

Aims of the Group 

The Theory Working Group aims to develop the theoretical aspects of the English School. This is a broad agenda and the working group is interested in contributions that address all aspects of English School theory.

These might include re-consideration of both key texts in the English School and those which receive less attention than they perhaps deserve, work focusing on key English School concepts, the relationship between the English School and other strands of international relations and political theory; and work addressing theoretical aspects of the dynamic and fluid nature of international society.

In addition we hope to draw on the work of the other working groups to try and act as a site where the theoretical contributions arising from more policy or empirically oriented work can be highlighted.

Initial working group priorities concern three main areas. The first of these is the methodology of the English School, including the relationship between the English School and contructivism.

Recent work by Tim Dunne, Richard Little and Hidemi Suganami amongst others has sparked considerable interest in this, reflecting the general move to methodology in IR theory that has proved to be so stimulating for normatively concerned and involved work such as that of the English School. It also reflects, develops and takes in new directions the defence of the 'classical' methodology offered by Bull in his exchanges with the behaviourists in the late 1960s.

The second main area is the pluralism-solidarism debate in international ethics.

Recently, in the work of Wheeler, Linklater and others, the 'solidarist' strand of the English School has received considerable attention and promotion, especially in relation to the protection and promotion of human rights.

Much of this work has also been policy oriented, pointing to the linkage between the work of the thoery working group and that on law, ethics and foreign policy. However, the working group is keen to see papers that both assess this solidarist work from a principally theoretical standpoint and that seeks to explore the potential of a revived pluralist agenda.

The third are is the interaction of international and world society at a time of global transformations that are bringing these two aspects of international politics into ever-greater contact and interaction.

Thus the classical 'society of states' model often viewed as the core of the English School is having to respond to globalising capitalist economy and the appearance of a putative global civil society, amongst other developments.

This may well enable the logic of world society to play a greater and graeter role in international politics, pointing to the need to develop English School theory in an area relatively under-developed in earlier work.

These three areas are notably dynamic at present in English School research and the working group aims to become one of the main sites where work in progress and more polished pieces in these areas can be discussed, refined and honed on their way to publication.

Research interests of convenors

Charles Jones

Charles Jones is Assistant Director of Studies in the Centre of International Studies at the University of Cambridge. He has written books on international economic history, neorealism, and E. H. Carr, and still maintains an interest in Latin American affairs, especially those of Argentina and the Southern Cone.

His current interests centre on tensions between scholarship, politics, and religion in writings on IR and the use of force, with particular reference to British authors.

Richard Little

Richard Little is Professor of International Politics at the University of Bristol. He has written books on intervention into civil war, international order, the logic of anarchy, and international systems in world history. He has edited books on belief systems in international relations, global issues, perspectives on world politics and ethical foreign policy.

He has a long-standing interest in IR theory in general and the English school approach to theory in particular.

John Williams

John Williams is currently Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Durham. He has written a book, an article and papers on the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the international response, taking the English School as their theoretical framework.

He has also written a number of articles and papers exploring the ethical significance of territorial borders within a primarily pluralist English School framework. His current research focuses on this question of the ethics of borders and pluralism with a book under development on the topic.

Please contact any of the convenors if you would like to know more about the working group.

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