Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats

Bucher B (2012)
Human Figurations 1(3).

Journal Article | Published | English

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Abstract
Eliasian inspired approaches can add to international relations theory by pushing beyond the confines of interactionism, which still dominates the discipline. Figurational thinking not only offers an inspiring ontological alternative to ‘classical’ approaches, but provides for novel insights on the basis of empirical research. This article, in a first step, critically engages the ontological presuppositions of interactionist theories, and the democratic peace literature more specifically. In a second step, it draws on an empirical study to make the confines of this literature, and the pitfalls of the resulting policy recommendations, visible. To do so, the article analyzes a historical event in which the assumptions that liberal democracies are geared towards peace qua regime type came to be reversed. Following the Congress of Troppau in 1820 a stark opposition between liberal-constitutional and Christian-monarchical regime types led to the assessment that liberal states and those in the process of liberalization, are threatening qua regime type. This emergence of ‘liberal threats’ was inseparably tied to the formation of a group of states (Holy Allies) which began to base their conception of international legitimacy on Christian-monarchical principles. This reversal of contemporary intuitions underlines the importance of being able to account for such findings at a conceptual level. Interactionist perspectives are less fit to do so, because they erase the processual-relational character of social arrangements. In terms of foreign policy, interactionist approaches make it exceedingly difficult to recognize benevolent signals sent by allegedly inherently threatening states. At the same time, interactionist perspectives also lead to a curtailment of policy options open to decision-makers. This article subsequently argues that an interactionist approach to the democratic peace with its highly restricted scientific ontology unwarrantedly limits the ability to purposefully act in the world.
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Bucher B. Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats. Human Figurations. 2012;1(3).
Bucher, B. (2012). Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats. Human Figurations, 1(3).
Bucher, B. (2012). Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats. Human Figurations 1.
Bucher, B., 2012. Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats. Human Figurations, 1(3).
B. Bucher, “Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats”, Human Figurations, vol. 1, 2012.
Bucher, B.: Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats. Human Figurations. 1, (2012).
Bucher, Bernd. “Figurational Sociology and the Democratic Peace - Holy Allies and Liberal Threats”. Human Figurations 1.3 (2012).
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