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Social Sci LibreTexts

7: Poststructuralism

  • Page ID
    11329
  • Poststructuralism encourages a way of looking at the world that challenges what comes to be accepted as ‘truth’ and ‘knowledge’. 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. Poststructuralism doubts the possibility of attaining universal laws or truths as there is no world that exists independently of our own interpretations. 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’. 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. This renders poststructuralism openly critical of any theory that claims to be able to identify objective fact – as truth and knowledge are subjective entities that are produced rather than discovered. 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.