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WEALTH | It is closely related to Post-Modernism, although the two concepts are not synonymous.. Critics of post-structuralism tend to argue that the world consists of entities, such as objects with various properties and relations between them. Additionally, elites are often also categorised as ‘experts’ within society, giving them the authority to further reinforce the viewpoints that serve their best interests to a wide audience. The starting point for a post-structural theoretical vision is language and signification. ENTERTAINMENT | Poststructuralists always call into question how certain accepted ‘facts’ and ‘beliefs’ actually work to reinforce the dominance and power of particular actors within international relations. For instance, they include government ministers who decide policy focus and direction for a state, business leaders who leverage vast financial resources to shape market direction, and media outlets that decide how a person is portrayed while reporting a story. For this reason, poststructuralists encourage researchers to be sceptical of universal narratives that attempt to offer an objective worldview, as these assumptions are heavily influenced by pre-existing assumptions of what is true -- and usually underlined by the views of those in power. 4.0 An Explanation of Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism and Post-Structuralism. A regime of truth, then, is constituted by the dominant discourse, elite actors and the language that is used to create and sustain meaning and truth that serves the interest of the favoured actors. Discourses which augment the power of elites are called dominant or official discourses by poststructuralists. Privacy, Click Here: International Relations Theory (E-IR Foundations). Personal freedoms – such as the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – have been placed as the limit against which security exists. Site Map | The terrorists were plagued by 'inexplicable neurosis' and driven by 'ethnic, superstitious and tribal madnesses' (Toynbee 2001). Overviews. This viewpoint is underscored by Foucault's (1984, 127) assertion that 'we must not imagine the world turns towards us a legible face which we would only have to decipher'. This hierarchy of grief can also be seen in the outpouring of sympathy for victims of terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Nice in July 2016. TECH | The importance of poststructuralism is to highlight existing regimes of truth and show that conventional ways of thinking and analysis in international relations are unable to point out how certain other possibilities are excluded by these discourses from the very start. Click Here: International Relations Theory (E-IR Foundations) Section. These entities exist independently of one’s knowledge of them. Abstract. Post-structuralism differs from most other approaches to international politics because it does not see itself as a theory, school or paradigm which produces a single account of the subject matter. Additionally, these terrorists were set apart as different from more traditional forms of terrorism that the world had previously witnessed through the highlighting of the lethality and deadliness of mass murdering transnational terrorism – a move which heightened the emotions of fear and anxiety further. Post-International Relations: Poststructuralism, Postcolonialism and Postimperalism? Over time, the discursive construction of terrorists by the media was not strong enough to override the concurrent media accounts of large numbers of casualties resulting from the intervention. Besides the critical perspective, post-structuralism also brings philosophical ideas and concepts to the study of international relations (Baylis, 2011, p. 69). Power, in some theories In newspaper reports -- specifically, in the week after the attacks -- the terrorists were presented as evil and irrational, their stated political motivations were effaced and instead terrorists were repeatedly spoken of as crazed and apolitical. Post-Structuralism in IR Not a theory of international politics, but more of an approach, an ethos, or a 'critical attitude' Interested in representation, power, knowledge, and the politics of identity - … As the defining global terrorist attack of the twenty-first century, the attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States can be used to convey how dominant discourses, instigated by governmental elites, were perpetuated and reinforced by the media. Butler argues that thousands of people are lost to conflict in countries such as Palestine and Afghanistan, often at the hands of Western powers, and yet these people are not mourned or memorialised or even heard of within Western reports of war. The impact of poststructuralism within International Relations comes from its ability to not only identify and uncover power relations that dictate political events but also make space for alternative discourses. Furthermore, by tracing the rise and fall of regimes of truth as they take on new forms and favour new actors, poststructuralism shows how discourses can change over time and be destabilised. Besides the critical perspective, post-structuralism also brings philosophical ideas and concepts to the study of international relations (Baylis, 2011, p. 69). For such critics, to understand truth only semantically leads Through language, certain actors, concepts and events are placed in hierarchical pairs, named binary oppositions, whereby one element of the set is favoured over the other in order to create or perpetuate meaning. This hierarchy of grief can also be seen in the outpouring of sympathy for victims of terrorist attacks in Paris in November 2015 and Nice in July 2016. Poststructuralism encourages a way of looking at the world that challenges what comes to be accepted as ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’. Thus, the official discourse regarding terrorism and intervention was changing and this shift can be identified by a shift to more clandestine forms of intervention in the Middle East from 2009 onwards -- watermarked by the presidency of Barack Obama. This is an excerpt from International Relations Theory an E-IR Foundations beginner’s textbook. By the collapse of the Soviet Union, a bipolar international system was abruptly transformed into an unipolar system. In general, post-structuralism emphasizes the importance of language in structuring our experience of the world - meanings are not inherent in the thing or action itself but are created by words and their relationship to other words. This is an excerpt from International Relations Theory – an E-IR Foundations beginner’s textbook. C. Fynsk, in International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2001. This messy entanglement of the everyday and the elite shows that a plethora of discourses can coexist and craft the view of international relations that we are offered. ENVIRONMENT | A language should be understood as a structure because the individual words gain their meaning due to the existence of the structure. If we look to the aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001 (commonly known as 9/11) we can see these categories of differentiation and their influence begin to manifest themselves. Post-structuralism wants us to take think critically about how we construct the world. The difference between Post-Structuralism and Structuralism is simple to understand. Before you download your free e-book, please consider donating to Along with these fatalities, as the media began to report on the abuses that were carried out, the regime of truth that had been centred on the foreign policy directives of the Bush presidency started to falter. The strength of dominant discourses lies in their ability to shut out other options or opinions to the extent that thinking outside the realms set by the discourse is seen as irrational. This is particularly because, as it is examined throughout this essay, post-structuralism generally does not seek to present a specific worldview of its … It certainly prevented the chance of dealing with these attacks through diplomacy, as the overarching discourse stated that these terrorists merely wanted to destroy the world before them. Therefore, the ways that famines occur as a result of elites taking particular forms of political action, through processes of exploitation or inaction due to profits on increased food prices, are lost when they are presented as unavoidable natural disasters. The power relation that is embedded within this relationship (for example, good versus evil or developed versus undeveloped) serves to reinforce the preferred meaning within the discursive construct. Post-structuralism is the literary and philosophical work that both builds upon and rejects ideas within structuralism, the intellectual project that preceded it. Hence, this binary opposition enabled Bush to claim that the United States was opposite to all that this trio represented and would be justified in taking various actions during a global campaign against states that were judged to sponsor, or harbour, terrorists. This model applies to the ruling discourse that operates unquestioned within society, masquerading as the truth or fact. President George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an ‘axis of evil’ – making these countries the ‘them’ that were rhetorically and politically positioned as international pariahs in contrast to the innocent ‘us’ of the United States and its allies. ECONOMICS | and via a free PDF download. STOCKS | It certainly prevented the chance of dealing with these attacks through diplomacy, as the overarching discourse stated that these terrorists merely wanted to destroy the world before them. The words we speak, the phrases we use, according to Post-structuralism, are never totally objective. In practice, the dominant discourse of securing the state often works to silence any concerns about enhanced state power. President George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq and North Korea as an 'axis of evil' -- making these countries the 'them' that were rhetorically and politically positioned as international pariahs in contrast to the innocent 'us' of the United States and its allies. Therefore, by design, poststructuralism conflicts with the bulk of other IR theories as it finds them unable (or unwilling) to fully account for the true diversity of international relations. Moreover, the emotions that the narratives of these actions evoked related back to feelings of love, empathy and altruism that the media utilised to engender further cohesion in society against the 'other' of the terrorist. The official discourse across an event, although powerful, never fully accounts for the reading of the entire situation. The official discourse across an event, although powerful, never fully accounts for the reading of the entire situation. For poststructuralists, language is one of the most crucial elements for the creation and perpetuation of a dominant discourse. As the defining global terrorist attack of the twenty-first century, the attacks of 11 September 2001 on the United States can be used to convey how dominant discourses, instigated by governmental elites, were perpetuated and reinforced by the media. Personal freedoms – such as the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly – have been placed as the limit against which security exists. For this reason, poststructuralists encourage researchers to be sceptical of universal narratives that attempt to offer an objective worldview, as these assumptions are heavily influenced by pre-existing assumptions of what is true – and usually underlined by the views of those in power. Therefore, by design, poststructuralism conflicts with the bulk of other IR theories as it finds them unable (or unwilling) to fully account for the true diversity of international relations. Therefore, the move to achieve increased levels of security without the infringement upon personal or civil liberties is excluded from the argument, as the two are constantly being positioned in direct opposition to each other. Yet, similar attacks in Beirut and Nigeria in November 2015 and Baghdad in July 2016 (to name but a few) went largely unnoticed and were silenced within regimes of truth that mourned for, or favoured, the ‘innocent’ Western victim. Yet, similar attacks in Beirut and Nigeria in November 2015 and Baghdad in July 2016 (to name but a few) went largely unnoticed and were silenced within regimes of truth that mourned for, or favoured, the 'innocent' Western victim. These ideas and concepts have been used to produce new knowledge about world politics. As such, if we want to observe   how people have come to conceive and frame both terrorism and terrorists, the poststructuralist can analyse media accounts in order to analyse the discursive construction of these political actors and associated terrorist events. Over time, the discursive construction of terrorists by the media was not strong enough to override the concurrent media accounts of large numbers of casualties resulting from the intervention. Discourses which augment the power of elites are called dominant or official discourses by poststructuralists. Poststructuralism doubts the possibility of attaining universal laws or truths as there is no world that exists independently of our own interpretations. Aishling Mc Morrow is a Lecturer in International Relations at Queen’s University Belfast, UK. Academia.edu is a platform for academics to share research papers. 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