Robert Cox said in his article, ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory’, that “theory is always for someone and for some purpose”. This argument which write by Robert Cox, is very important for the study of International Relations. Robert Cox’s argues analyzes the differences and similarities of ‘problem-solving theory’ and ‘critical theory’. In this article we examines the meaning of the Cox’s argument.
In the first section, we analyzes the relations of problem-solving and critical theories. In this sense theory serve two purposes. Problem-solving theory usually explain this; social and political relations in the world which we live. The main point of this theory proper management of the institutions and dealing with the source of the problem. According to Cox; realism, liberalism and the neo version of these theory are enters problem-solving theory classes. In the other hand if a theory is not accepted social and political relations or if a theory analyze the source of the relationship. This theory is called critical theory. For critical theoretician, prevailing order is just one of the alternatives. Critical theory includes problem solving theory. Opposed to problem-solving theories, critical theories have critical lenses that questions the prevailing order. This section is over. In the other part I want to give you some information about Robert Cox and “theory is always for someone and for some purpose”.
The argument of Cox, “theory is always for someone and for some purpose” implies that both problem-solving theory and critical theory serves for someone and for some purpose. In this regard Prof. Tayyar Arı, argues that “Problem-solving theory is for the social forces, in general, and the ruling elite, in particular, in developed states , and for the purpose of making the prevailing social and power relationships endure; in other words, of the legitimizing the the status quo. On the other hand, critical theory is for someone who is disadvantaged by the prevailing order, and for the purpose of denaturalizing the prevailing social and power relationships and seeking for alternatives.” In other hand Prof. Ramazan Gözen argues that; each theory has two components. Perspective and problematic. The basis of perspectives social, political time and venue. A theory is not devoid of perspective. No theory perspective, it is ideology. Also perspectives change over time. And a dialogue occurs between doctrinaire and social reality.
That theory’s problematic turned out in the results of this dialogue. In epitome, these two points formed the basis of Cox’s idea. If we are to reconcile with critical theory; In Cox’s words, critical theory must reject improbable alternative order just as it rejects the permanency of the existing order.
In this paragraph I want to talk about the historical background of Cox’s theory. Cox was influenced Gramsci. Like Gramsci, according to Cox social development can not be explained by just the economy. Cultural facts (idea) are important. These ideas are collective images and inter-subjective meanings. All of them show we Cox’s concept of hegemony and state concept. Cox’s views are similar to the views of Gramsci. Finally please do not forget Cox was influenced by the Frankfurt School.
In conclusion, Cox’s argument has a great significance for the study of International Relations. In this regard, Cox’s argument “theory is always for someone and for some purpose” creates an awareness in the study of International Relations that theory is more than explaining in theories.