S: Theory and Analysis of Discourse in International Relations - WS 2022/23

TU Dresden | Wintersemester 2022 / 2023

S: Theory and Analysis of Discourse in International Relations - WS 2022/23

Discourse analysis is an established and highly popular methodology in the social sciences, including International Relations scholarship. Prominent debates on the relevance of language and discourse as they are being led particularly in social constructivist IR research have resulted in a range of text- and discourse-analytical approaches and methods. At the core of such approaches lies the claim that language-use, political practice and power are intimately linked – and that the productive effects of meaning-structures can be observed empirically through the study of discourse and communicative interaction. The seminar approaches this complex and innovative field of theory and research from two angles. First, students will engage with core theories, concepts and analytical models for the study of language and discourse. We will discuss the language-philosophical and social theoretical roots of discourse-oriented research in IR (Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu, Habermas, Laclau/Mouffe and others), placing particular emphasis on critical theories of discourse and their interest in power, exclusion and social transformation. In the first part of the seminar, we will also explore why discourse has become ever more popular in IR, especially when it comes to the study of norm emergence and transformation; the study of international negotiations and institutions; or the influence of non-state actors. Secondly, we will look at the various ways in which these discourse theories have been translated into methodological programmes and frameworks for analysis.


The seminar seeks to provide students with a profound and comprehensive overview of the various discourse theoretical foundations and discourse analytical approaches employed in International Relations. It covers a broad range of issues and research fields in IR with a focus on specific theoretical and methodological traditions. Participating in this seminar requires that you are willing to read and engage with sometimes difficult literature (in English).

The seminar will start on October 11th 2022!

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