Critical international relations theory is a diverse set of schools of thought in International Relations (IR) that have criticized the theoretical, meta-theoretical and/or political status quo, both in IR theory and in international politics more broadly — from positivist as well as postpositivist positions. Positivist critiques include Marxist and Neo-Marxist approaches and certain ("conventional") strands of social constructivism. Postpositivist critiques include poststructuralist, postcolonial, "critical" constructivist, Critical Theory (in the strict sense used by the Frankfurt School), neo-Gramscian, most feminist and some English School approaches, which differ from both realism and liberalism in their epistemological and ontological premises.
Such theories are now widely recognized and taught and researched in many universities, but are as yet less common in the United States. They are taught at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels in many major universities outside the US, where a major concern is that "a myopic discipline of IR might contribute to the continued development of a civil society in the U.S. that thinks, reflects and analyzes complex international events through a very narrow set of theoretical lenses"
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- Linklater, Andrew, 1996. ‘The achievements of critical theory’, in Booth, Ken, Smith, Steve & Zalewski, Marysia, eds, International Theory: Positivism and Beyond. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Linklater, Andrew, 1997. ‘The transformation of political community: E.H.Carr, critical theory and international relations’, Review of International Studies Vol 23, 1997: 321-338.
- Carne Ross, Independent Diplomat: Despatches from an Unaccountable Elite (Crisis in World Politics), C. Hurst & Co, 2007, ISBN 1-85065-843-9
- Christine Sylvester, Feminist international relations: an unfinished journey. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 2002
- Cynthia Weber, International Relations Theory. A Critical Introduction, 2nd edition, Taylor & Francis, 2004, ISBN 0-415-34208-2