Theory and Practice: The Ethics and Politics of Security

by Vivienne Jabri

I often come across the assertion that theorists, especially those working in ‘critical’ International Relations, are reluctant to engage with questions of policy. In other words, we might have a great deal to say about theory, concepts, and methods, and we might use these to critique particular policies and actions, but our language is so deep in the so-called ‘ivory tower’ that it tends to bypass the non-specialist, the policy-maker, or indeed the public sphere. The charge tends to be thrown at theorists generally, so one function we hope the Forum will serve is to show that theorists in International Relations have a great deal to say and to contribute to debates around the policy arena and wider issues that concern the public sphere.

Primarily, we would want to challenge the idea that ‘theory’ is somehow divorced from ‘practice’. I would want to argue that ‘practice’ is always imbued with a theoretical background that is often left hidden; as if the discourses and positions expressed in the area of policy are self-evident or can be taken for granted. Continue reading

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