Towards a Critical Theory of Democratic Peace

Christopher Edward Hobson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The Democratic Peace research programme remains a prominent and influential strand of International Relations theory. It occupies a central place in the discipline, both as a dominant version of liberal internationalism, and as a supposedly paradigmatic case demonstrating the strengths of positivist scholarship. Nonetheless, Democratic Peace scholarship has been challenged by recent real world events, notably the belligerent behaviour of democratic states during the so-called 'War on Terror', and the use of its findings to justify the US led invasion of Iraq. In this regard, Democratic Peace research has struggled to deal with the ethical and practical consequences of its work, as the focus has been on empirically observable and testable problems that fit within the remit of positivist social scientific practice. Responding to this state of affairs, it is argued here that there is a pressing need to further extend and pluralise existing scholarship by incorporating approaches which commence from different ontological, epistemological and methodological starting points. While there are multiple possibilities, Frankfurt School Critical Theory has great potential to contribute to an expanded research agenda. The article outlines what a Critical Theory approach to the study of Democratic Peace would entail, highlighting the substantial contribution it can make.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1903-1922
Number of pages20
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Towards a Critical Theory of Democratic Peace'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this