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Theorising praxis and practice(s). Notes on Silviya Lechner’s and Mervyn Frost’s Practice Theory and International Relations

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2020

Goethe University – Campus Westend – PEG-Gebäude, Institute of Political Science – Box 24, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6, D-60629 Frankfurt am Main, Germany


Silviya Lechner’s and Mervyn Frost’s book Practice Theory and International Relations offers a new approach to theorise international relations in terms of ‘practices’. It is a welcome contribution to an intensifying debate about ‘praxis’, ‘practice’ and ‘practices’ because Lechner and Frost actually engage key authors of praxis, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, who, in IR, have often only been referenced in passing. While the rediscovery of Wittgenstein as praxis theorist is welcome, the reading of his approach to praxis is irritating because ‘internalism’ and ‘descriptivism’ – two concepts which Lechner and Frost highlight as central in both Wittgenstein’s work and their new practice theory – are interpreted in ways which are difficult to reconcile with Wittgenstein’s late philosophy. This critique offers a different reading of Wittgenstein’s approach to praxis and argues that such an alternative reading opens up an understanding of praxis which, if adopted more widely, would also free IR theorising from self-imposed strictures.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020 

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