Culture and Context in World Politics by Stephanie Lawson (auth.)

By Stephanie Lawson (auth.)

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We are referred instead to the ‘context’ within which conversations and events occur or within which texts are produced. The context includes the presuppositions, expectations and intentions that actors bring to it and, more broadly, the conventions that apply to behaviour and the communication of meaning in any given situation. ‘Culture’ may be understood as a shorthand term for the combination of these contextual attributes, and so the term ‘cultural context’ is often used. More generally, the context is understood to shape epistemic standards, which suggests in turn that such standards vary from one context to another.

Some of the problems associated with this are dealt with at greater length in Chapter 7. 37 While the style of constructivism outlined above is not especially radical in its assumptions or implications, postmodern approaches are much more so. 38 But while postpositivism tends to reject universals and any kind of Archimedean vantage point from which to grasp invariable Truths about the state of the world and the human condition, there are nonetheless ‘moments of clarity’ when one may grasp important insights.

61 This shifts the notion of context as such from a cultural understanding to a political/historical one. Here we should note that although the current ‘Islam versus the West’ scenario is a variation on the Orientalist theme, it is not simply promoted by Western politicians, academics, journalists or other commentators who have bought into this method of simplifying the world. 63 We have observed already that the flurry of culturalist discourses in the post-Cold War world may suggest that studies in world politics had little connection with the culture concept until recently.

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