Article | Towards an International Political Ergonomics

Towards an International Political Ergonomics

My latest article, entitled Towards an International Political Ergonomics, is now forthcoming at the European Journal of International Relations. The article proposes the establishment of an ‘applied’ IR through the integration of ergonomic, design-centric, and new materialist theories of how change occurs in the world. A pre-print version of Towards an International Political Ergonomics can be read and/or downloaded below or directly via this link.


This article introduces International Political Ergonomics (iPER). iPER is a novel research programme focused on achieving positive-political change through the ergonomic (re)design of world politics. The approach is grounded on a shift across IR that recognizes its epistemic (i.e. knowledge- producing) core is often inadequate to achieve change. Insights from the practice turn and behaviouralist IR, as well as from philosophy, sociology, and neuroscience, demonstrate that much international behaviour is driven by the ‘unconscious’ or ‘non-reflexive’ re-articulation of repertoires of actions even where the pathologies of this process are known. This implies that knowledge production and dissemination (i.e. to policy-makers, global publics) is often unable to effect influence over social practices. What is thus required is a non-epistemic means of effecting world political change. iPER is a research programme that takes up this task. It does so by describing how small material interventions into world politics can radically shift individual behaviours by encouraging greater rationality, reflexivity, and deliberation. After laying out the theoretical basis for this claim, the article demonstrates it by detailing the application of iPER to violence prevention efforts. The article concludes by reflecting on the radical implications that iPER has for the vocation of IR.


Austin, Jonathan Luke. (Forthcoming). ‘Towards an International Political Ergonomics,’ European Journal of International Relations.


For their outstanding stewardship of this article I would like to thank the editors and reviewers of EJIR who helped improve the piece hugely. Likewise, the article benefited immeasurably from the kind comments, encouragements, and suggestions made by Anna Leander, Stephanie Perazzone, Ole Waever, Miguel Iglesias Lopez, Vincent Pouliot, Rebecca Adler-Nissen, Stefano Guzzini, Claudia Aradau, Victor Santos Rodriguez, Thomas Biersteker, Michael C. Williams, Mark Salter, Daniel Nexon, and Isabel Bramsen. Finally, for research assistance underlying several aspects of this article and the research project it forms a part of, I would like to thank Alice Baroni. This research was supported by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) grant number CRSII5_170986.



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