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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal European Journal of International Relations
Volume (Issue) 27(1)
Page(s) 175 - 203
Title of proceedings European Journal of International Relations
DOI 10.1177/1354066120922605


IR has long been concerned about its claim on disciplinary status. This includes concerns about its differentiation from Political Science and a divide between scholars who advocate a narrow disciplinary approach and others who conceive of IR as a pluri-disciplinary concept. Although these dilemmas revolve around its position vis-à-vis other disciplines, the vast majority of the recent disciplinary-sociology debates have focused on the extent of IR scholarship’s intradisciplinary fragmentation, along epistemological, topical, national, status and other lines. However, the sociology of science literature stresses that disciplines are the product of not only internal practice but also their knowledge relations to and differentiation from other disciplines. In short, intradisciplinary fragmentation cannot be considered as detached from a discipline’s relations to other disciplines – and, by extension, the differentiated knowledge relationships held by distinct intradisciplinary fragments to other disciplines. Taking this into account, this article uses bibliometric analysis of journals as a proxy for analysing the relationship between IR’s intradisciplinary make-up and its interdisciplinary relations to eight cognate disciplines between 2013 and 2017. Three distinct modes of bibliometric analysis are operationalised to map three different aspects of interdisciplinary knowledge practice: (inter)disciplinary debates (direct citation), multidisciplinary knowledge bases (bibliographic coupling) and interdisciplinary knowledge production (co-citation). On this basis, the article asks, one, whether and how differences in the interdisciplinary knowledge relations practised by IR scholarship correlate with intra-IR lines of fragmentation. And two, what are the implications for how IR’s socio-intellectual composition is understood and its disciplinary status evaluated?