Stephen Hobden
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Critical Theory
What is it, and why should we study it?
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This chapter develops a working definition of critical theory, and argues for the need for critical approaches to understand current global crises and the operation of power. Following a brief discussion of the notion of critique, the chapter provides an analysis of Horkheimer’s agenda-setting essay ‘Traditional and Critical Theory’. Horkheimer’s essay is compared to Robert Cox’s distinction between problem-solving and critical theory. The chapter closes with a discussion of the emergence of a range of critical theories within International Relations, namely Critical Theory itself, feminism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and complexity thinking.

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Critical theory and international relations

Knowledge, power and practice

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