Publication Details

Farrell, T. 1999, 'Correspondence: Isms and Schisms: Culturalism versus Realism in Security Studies', International Security, vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 161-168.


In "Culture Clash," Michael Desch offers a dismissive assessment of the new culturalist wave in security studies.1 Desch ªnds cultural variables hard to deªne and operationalize, culturalists reluctant to generalize across cases, and inconsistencies within culturalism in security studies such that some cultural theories have more in common with realist theories than with other cultural ones. I deal with each of these criticisms in turn. I then focus on Desch's call for culturalists to subject their theories to "crucial tests." I propose an alternative method, more favored by social scientists and accepted by realists, of comparing realism and culturalism as rival research programs in security studies.