Towards an International Political Ergonomics

Thursday, 6 December 2018 - 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
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Presented by CIPS and the Security Studies Network (SSN)
International Political Ergonomics (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, I will demonstrates it by detailing the application of iPER to violence prevention efforts. The talk will conclude by reflecting on the radical implications that iPER has for the vocation of IR.   Jonathan Luke Austin is a political sociologist and Lead Researcher for the Violence Prevention (VIPRE) Initiative at the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding of the Graduate Institute, Geneva. His research agenda is focused around the ontologies of political violence, the relationships between ergonomic design and world politics, the political status of aesthetics, and the state of critique in contemporary social science. Alongside these foci, Austin also possesses a decade of research and field experience on/in the Middle East (Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Palestine, Jordan, Turkey) and regularly consults for NGOs and the media on ongoing conflicts. Austin’s work has been published in journals including European Journal of International Relations, International Political Sociology, Security Dialogue, Review of International Studies, European Journal of International Security and beyond.