Towards a “Second Great Debate” in Russian IR


The article contains a critical analysis of previously published article in the journal International Trends “Statistics Against History” by Alexey Fenenko with critics of quantitative methods and formal models in International Studies. Discussion with Alexey Fenenko in some way could be compared to 1950s – 1960s Second Great Debate in international relations, but in Russian intellectual environment. The author concludes that this debated showed gradual development of International Studies in Russia . The place of IR in Political Science and History is shown, differences in methodology are discussed, as well as role of ideology in social sciences is emphasized. The author talks about development of quantitative methodology in the American Political and IR Sciences and outlines whether it is possible for other countries, including Russia to successfully adopt quantitative methodology in IR as a part of modern social science. Limits and assumptions of game-theory model within interdisciplinary approach is presented along with prospects of using other mathematic methods such as system dynamics models and agent-based modelling (ABM) as examples of simulations which help to provide forecasts of international relations. International ratings and indexes of national power are discussed highlighting their methodological weaknesses. The author also provides some alternative to A. Fenenko’s article indexes using the same methodology but that more adequately reflect international politics. He compares the methodology of major ‘cold war’ power indexes, soft power indexes (incl. Country Brand Index or Happy Planet Index) of unipolar world and modern complex indicates like Foreign Bilateral Influence Capacity (FBIC) index, elaborated by Denver University. In conclusion, the author supposes that quantitative methods help international studies uncover implicit and counterintuitive patterns.


international studies research methodology; formalization; interdisciplinary studies; mathematical methods; models; game-theory; ABM: mathematical statistics; indexes; rankings; History; Political Science.

Authors: Denis Degterev

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