The statement of Robert Cox, “theory is always for someone and for some purpose”, has great importance on the studies of International Relations. The statement emphasizes that, all theories service some goals and claims that, there is no objective theory.
Cox tried to improve a theory of world politic with separation among “problem-solving-theory” and “critical theory”. According to Cox, a theory always services a purpose and services solving problems of a specific group which the group usually is an elite group.
One of Cox’s goal which mentioned in the statement is the solution of problems in the social sphere and the goal naturally leads to a problem-solving theorizing. On the other hand, another goal is perspectives that shape the process of theorizing and be clearly aware of its connection to other points of perspectives, in other words, the goal is having perspectives over perspectives. Here at, the goal raises the critical theory.
On the other hand, problem-solving theory accepts as found the society, the world, the existing social relations, power relations and institutions that organize these relations. – accepts as given –
Within this framework, Cox aims solving the problems in the structure and processing the existed social relations, power relations and institutions smoothly and seamlessly. In this sense, we can say that, in a society, problem-solving theory has a tendency to legitimize for social and political structures and power relations.
As a result, the statement of Cox, “theory is always for someone and for some purpose” refers that both problem-solving theory and critical theory service for someone and for some purpose. On the other hand, Robert Cox represents a decisive break from the traditional theory with the statement.