Discourses of Power: Traversing the Realist-Postmodern Divide

  • Citation: Sterling-Folker, Jennifer, and Rosemary E. Shinko. "Discourses of power: traversing the realist-postmodern divide." Millennium-Journal of International Studies 33.3 (2005): 637-664.
    • Topics:
    • IR Theories
    • Keywords:
    • realism
    • postmodernism
    • the China-Taiwan relationship

This article is about the analytical divide that separates realism and postmodernism in International Relations. Written by a realist (Sterling-Folker), and a postmodernist (Shinko), it seeks to traverse the divide between them through a discussion of how the perspective of each represents and makes sense of power. It does so within the context of an empirical case study: the China-Taiwan relationship. Comparing and contrasting how each perspective conceptualises power in its empirical practice and application forces both to grapple with the possibility of a simultaneity of stasis and change, and thus forces both to confront the relationship of constitutive structure and history in their own representations of the world. If our goal is to understand power and the discursive frames we choose to describe it, then the philosophical avenues obscured by the standard realist-postmodern divide are worth traversing.

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