Last Updated 12 May 2020

New approaches to international relations

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The concept of critical theory was introduced in 1930’s by the first generation of Frankfurt school of thought. The major contributors of this school of thought are German philosophers, Frankfurt School, positivism, post positivism, Feminism and post modern theorist. The major focus of Critical theory is human freedom, emancipation, effects of environment and conditions. The prime supremacy of critical theory over other traditional concepts is critical theory focus on Practicality. “The basis of the 1970s’ turn to Critical Theory was the rejection of the actual political system. ”(Howard, pg 272).

It makes a bridge between philosophy and human or social sciences. It has multi disciplinary effectiveness and it is perceived as on of the most important, and effective contribution of contemporary Researchers. It takes its origin from Marxism believe of elevation of class and integration of international system for acquiring wealth and change in social class. Critical theorist strongly believes on practical approach. Critical theory is not a single theory, instead it is the set of different theories combined together and having common focal point of emancipation and enlightenment.

The difference in opinion of first and second generation theorist of critical theory is clearly showing up in literature. DEFINITION: Different definitions of Critical theory given by researchers are as follows. “A theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human emancipation. ”(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2005) “The interest of critical theory is to understand the social class rivalry between capital and labor, theoretically taken into the question and practically engaging into social action. ”(Bieler, pg 468).

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“Critical theory’ has become literary criticism. ” (Howard, 276) “A critical theory develops a dialectical theory of history concerned not just with the past but with a continual process of historical change” (Bieler, Morton, pg 82) “Critical theory offers to provide ethical and social criticism, moving away from the orthodox interest of technical control and prediction towards emancipatory interest of liberation and real freedom of the oppressed classes. ” (Critical Social Research) MARXISM THOUGHTS: The critical theory has emerged from the Marxist thought.

“Critical Theory was an academic code-name for Marxism. ” (Howard, 273) Marxism is a concept of economic accumulation and Marxism critical theory is based on the concept of change of class and completely discarded the concept of conflict and cooperation given by two very popular schools of thought i. e. Realism and liberalism. According to Marxism critical International relations theory “International relations is strive for capital accumulation in an international capitalist system”. The concept revolves round material and economic benefits.

Marxist favors the concept of Power centric ruling elite exploiting lower classes and making their views as reality. “Truth is shaped by ideological considerations of the ruling classes, so to achieve objectivity requires transcending social conditions (e. g. , capitalist, or state authoritarian, property rights of the means of production of knowledge and communication) that serve to mask and distort it attainment. In this way, false conscious is removed. ” (Critical Social Research) The focal of Marxism concept is power and money because according to them both give birth to control and authority.

Controls over ways of knowledge like media and education helps in dictate and maintain class system. The main focus of this theory is the concept of emancipation, human freedom and liberty. Giving prime importance to practicality this very initial contribution of critical theory believes that theory is not designed just to know the truth but it should be critically analysed for providing knowledge and freedom to act or manipulate all actors and forces, or intervene in the discussed situation to bring chance in the world.

FRANKFURT SCHOOL: Frankfurt school of thought is not a united school of thought.

A great deal of variance is available in the work of different researchers infact some critical theory analyst claimed that variation is present in the work of same theorist of Frankfurt school. They develop the ideological frame work of critical theory in response to the dominance of fascism and Stalinization in Europe. The foremost theorists of critical theory are Habermas and Andrew Linklater's. “Emphasis of Linkster’s study is placed on processes of identity and mutual recognition required for justice and systemic adaptation. (Jones, pg 3) Linklater’s three major concern of critical theories are normative, sociological and praxeology.

“60s student movement and its Frankfurt-influenced action and analysis was a vital contribution to democratizing a German culture and society. ” (Howard, 277) This school of thought critically argues the hegemony and dominance of technical and administrative systems. The major theorists of Frankfurt school are Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermass. According to Horkheimer “Critical theory must be explanatory, practical and normative. ”(Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) In this concept democracy, justice and democratic ideals have significant importance.

DIALECTIC OF ENLIGHTENMENT: “Enlightenment started out as a project aimed at disenchantment, trying to free thought from a reliance on mysterious rumours and powers”( Adorno, Horkheimer)One of the central claims of Dialectic of Enlightenment concerns the “entwinement of myth and Enlightenment,” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy) “Dialectic goal is to crack out from within the goal of self consciousness. ” (T. W. Adorno, Negative Dialectics) Horkheimer gave the Critism on the concept dialectic of enlightenment that it has self destructive tendencies.

The dialectical relation of force Source: (Bieler, Morton, pg 82)

GRAMSCANISM: According to Gramsci “Social basis of a state is dependant on social forces acting in it. ” The conceptual frame work define by Gramsci is strongly based on social class. According to him state is not just a political institution but it is a platform for rulers “The ‘national’ sphere remained the starting point to eliminate class exploitation and private property. ” (BIELER, pg 484) and elite to make and reinforce their dominance through theoretical or practical activities.

This makes state a very complex entity. “This relationship is referred to as the state-civil society complex that, clearly, owes an intellectual debt to Gramsci. ”(Bieler, Morton, pg 82) State is a set of public and civil dimensions of social relations and hegemony. The concepts of world order and globalization have their roots deep into the concept of hegemony and Gramscanism. “Globalization in the form of the transnationalisation of production has led to a fractionalization of capital and labor into transnational and national social forces alike. ” (Bieler, Morton, pg 96).

Masses are misleading through hemogenic ideas and it is a need to create a counter hemogenic block in society. Gramsci gave the concept of fighting with borguise culture but with what is replaced, how it will replace are the questions unaddressed by him. The cultural role and its importance in shaping society are acknowledge by Gramsci and communication and cultural changes in shaping mass knowledge, realities is also address. The Critism on Gramscanism are as follows. Few critiques think that neo Gramscanism is pre occupied with articulation of ideology and pluralist approach and provide an idealist explanation for economic policy.

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