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We''re Still in Silence! Analyzing the Failure of Wendt''s Great Disciplinary Synthesis After 12 years.

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Abstract

Twelve years have passed since the publishing of Alexander Wendt''s famous book Social Theory of International Politics (1999), but International Relations (IR) discipline showed little interest in complying with its political idea of an epistemological via media that could, supposedly, unit the field at least around the same object of analyses (Guzzini, Leander; 2006). Wendt''s amalgam of rump materialism, structuration theory, ideational factors concerning states identity and scientific realism did not prevent rationalists and reflexivists from following quite different research agendas. IR continues divided between two paradigms without any real prospect of overcoming the "silence" the so called "Third Debate" (Lapid, 1989) bore on it. This paper aims to analyze the gnosiological and practical reasons of via media''s failure, by stating its problematic conceptualization of epistemological and ontological dimensions of social theory (Wight, 2006) and its commitments with disciplinary orthodoxy, which might have supported the construction of a not-so-common ground (Guzzini, Leander; 2006). It explores the strategic use of constructivism argument (Persram apud Zefhuss, 2002) in accordance with which middle ground constructivism could be used to oppose other forms of "radical reflexivism" as some sort of "reasonable critical theory", therefore disciplining the field through a practice of identification and exclusion of otherness (Campbell, 1998). The paper also envisages the pluralistic epistemological nature of both rationalists and reflexivists, as well as poses a challenge to traditional views of post-structuralism as an idealist or non-epistemological approach. In the end, it problematizes the very desirability of the synthesis Wendt proposes.