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Boris Ananyev

Sanctions in IR: Understanding, Defining, Studying

2019. Vol. 14. No. 3. P. 136–150 [issue contents]


This article examines the ability of the two leading theoretical perspectives in international relations (IR) — realism and liberalism — to explain various aspects of sanctions implemented against Russia after 2014, as well as Russia’s countermeasures. Following arguments developed by Robert K. Merton, the author underlines the importance of middle-range theories in studying phenomena that lie at the confluence of economics, legal studies and political science, e.g. international sanctions. Moreover, the author points out the evident and pressing need to integrate sanctions within a broader theoretical context which would contribute to rethinking the nature of contemporary political interactions.

The author consequently tests liberal and realist paradigms and concludes that sanctions fall into the grey zone of their explanatory capabilities. Finally, the author concludes that scholars should either abandon the idea of studying sanctions in terms of big theories and return to an instrumental understanding or they should reconfigure international realist and liberal explanatory principles — which would probably change the paradigms significantly. A third option is to develop a new ontology of international relations.

Citation: Ananyev B. (2019) Sanctions in IR: Understanding, Defining, Studying. International OrganisationsResearch Journal, vol. 14, no 3, pp. 136–150 (in English). DOI: 10.17323/1996-7845-2019-03-07.
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