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Men and Masculinities in International Relations Research

Gender in IR
Terrell Carver


Given that international relations research is focused on the state in relation to what are traditionally regarded as manly activities—war, conflict, defense, rivalry, weaponry, strategy, geo-politics, and the like—it is something of a mystery why the relevance of theoretical and empirical work on men and masculinities is regarded as a new idea. To understand why that is, we need to draw a contrast between IR as it has developed from the 1920s to date, and its self-constructed pre-history in terms of classical theorists and their concerns. We also need to see the way in which masculinity is not the symmetrical opposite of femininity as human behavior, but rather a conceptual construct that works quite differently in relation to gender and gendering.1 Once we have proceeded through those analytical steps, it will become apparent why the study of men and masculinity is not only regarded as a new idea in IR, but also why the study of masculinity is not popular among mainstream scholars, even though by numerical majority and in terms of professional influence they are men.