Textualising British Politics: Deconstructing the subject of British foreign policy

Daniel Bulley

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    6 Citations (Scopus)


    British politics has been described as a sub-discipline crying out for methodological and ideational cross-fertilisation. Where other areas of political science have benefited from new ideas, British politics has remained largely atheoretical and underdeveloped. This has changed recently with the rise of interpretivism but the study of British politics would also benefit from more serious engagement with poststructuralism. With this in mind, I examine how the thought of Jacques Derrida and deconstruction could be useful for thinking through the foundations of British politics, re-examining what appears natural or given and revealing the problematic and contradictory status of these foundations. After suggesting the need to 'textualise' British politics', I illustrate how deconstruction operates in a specific context, that of British foreign policy since 1997. This exploration reveals how certain decisions (such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003) became possible in the first place, and how their basis in an idea of an 'us' and a 'them', a coherent, autonomous subject separate from its object, is deeply problematic. Such a critical reading of British politics is impossible within the dominant interpretivist framework, and opens up new possibilities for thought which form an important supplement to existing ways of studying the field.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)291-394
    Number of pages104
    JournalBritish Politics
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2009

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • History
    • Sociology and Political Science
    • Political Science and International Relations


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