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Communities of practice and what they can do for International Relations

Bicchi, Federica (2022) Communities of practice and what they can do for International Relations. Review of International Studies, 48 (1). 24 - 43. ISSN 0260-2105

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0260210521000528


This article argues that communities of practice (CoPs) provide IR with a unique way to understand how a small group of committed people can make a difference to international politics. The point is addressed in three steps. First, the article advances our understanding of how CoPs work. While at its core a CoP is a group of people brought together by a practice they enjoy, a CoP also shares a sense of timing, placing, and humour. These aspects help the group anchor, refine, and innovate their practice in the face of challenges and uncertainty. Second, the article contrasts the analysis of CoPs with other IR approaches, especially institutional analysis, network analysis, and epistemic communities, to show how CoPs supplement them. Third, the article illustrates the argument with the example of the EU foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It concludes by suggesting that a CoP's perspective not only helps IR better understand informal politics, but also opens up conversations across disciplines.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: Ⓒ 2021 The Author
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2021 08:45
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2024 05:33

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