International Politics

Research Mission

The research group International Politics (IP) focuses its research on three principal thematic domains: international security, international diplomacy, and the political economy of international institutions,  which form the traditional core of the study and discipline of International Relations.

IP studies the dynamics of international change and the changing parameters of the international environment in the field of security and that of political-economic relationships, and assesses how these changes can be governed.  Keenly aware of its limits, IP examines how diplomatic activity shapes and sometimes complicates attempts at international governance. Researchers within the Research Group do not view geopolitical change, the international security environment, economic relationships between major actors in world politics, nor the stability of international institutions as mere brute facts. They rather view and analyze them as the result of deeply social and political processes that take place among actors with shifting interests and within a changing cultural context. IP’s analyses therefore pay close attention to such factors as history and identity, domestic and transnational mobilization, the role of institutions in channeling the preferences and forming the identities of political actors, and domestic politics and leadership. IP’s theoretical apparatus is, for that reason, pragmatically eclectic.

Empirically, IP’s research focuses on a variety of subjects like nuclear disarmament, terrorism and radicalization, international institutions as locus for the negotiation of international commitments and enforcement, the vagaries of international trade and investment policy, innovation in diplomacy including public diplomacy and sub-state diplomacy, geopolitics and regional security (US, Russia, China and East Asia), and the concepts of peace and authority.

Methodologically, IP’s mostly theory-driven empirical research is of a qualitative nature and seeks to make diplomatic action intelligible by situating it within its context. IP’s methodological purpose is thus to combine the intellectual endeavor of understanding (‘Verstehen’) as well as explaining behavior to the extent possible through careful consideration of possible approaches and explanations. As the purposes of scholarly investigation are not limited to understanding and trying to explain phenomena but also to try and change the world, IP also does not shy away from prescriptive and normative analysis.

Depending on the research question at hand, a variety of methods are used, including comparative-historical analysis, discourse analysis, process-tracing, controlled case comparisons, qualitative comparative analysis, or – where appropriate and reliably doable, large-N studies. 

IP has a fine tradition of translating their academic work into more popular outlets, with may benefit policy-makers and society.