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Advancing a reflexive international relations

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This article advances a call for greater reflexivity in International Relations (IR) to uncover various intellectual and political biases that may obscure the research process. Inspired by existing reflexive practices in IR and, in particular, Pierre Bourdieu's use of such a method, it argues that reflexivity matters for enhancing ethically grounded research, in terms of not only the choice of subjects to study, but also how specific problems are treated, and hence what kind of results can be expected. However, the argument also goes beyond the appeal to autobiographical reflexivity to embrace other dimensions. This includes attention to institutional forces that shape the agency of the scholar and, in turn, the complex relationship between the academy and the wider political world. In the most ambitious sense, the potential for reflexivity can also be conceived collectively in terms of activist intellectuals who seek to reward reflexive practices through dialogue and political intervention. The social space of international trade politics is taken as an empirical example.

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