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Historical materialism and international relations

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Chapter Summary

Researchers from the historical-materialist tradition made major contributions to the field of international relations during the last two decades. With respect to the Marxist tradition, contemporary historical materialism seeks to come to terms with the problematic character of techno-deterministic explanations, of teleological conceptions of history and of functionalist economism. The author's survey of these contributions and achievements focuses on the influence and legacy of two theoretical trends in international relations theory: neo-Gramscianism and political Marxism. At the epistemological and normative levels, neo-Gramscianism defends a conception of the relation between theory and practice anchored in Antonio Gramsci's conception of the organic intellectual. The development of political Marxism and the theory of social-property relations stem from the work of historian Robert Brenner on the transition to capitalism.

Keywords: capitalism; historical materialism; Marxism; modern international relations; neo-Gramscianism; Robert Brenner



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