Keeping Up with the Times: How the Discipline of International Relations Responds to Benchmark Events

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Authors Matthew K. Ribar
Paper Category
Paper Abstract This article examines how the discipline of international relations (IR) engages with the policy process by investigating the discipline’s responsiveness to world events. To this end, the article deploys a mixed-methods approach using historical data of journal articles in twelve top IR journals covering 1980 to 2012 from the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project as well as a series of interviews with scholars to show how four major world events, or benchmark events, influence the discipline of international relations. The paper finds that benchmark events do cause a shift in the subject areas in which IR scholars publish, as well as a shift in the popularity of theoretical approaches in which scholars ground their research. Benchmark events do not, however, cause a significant shift in where in the world IR scholars study. A series of elite interviews with IR professors is used to elaborate a causal mechanism for these correlations.
Date of publication 2016
Code Programming Language R

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