The state of concept: A new analytical tool for political research

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This paper proposes a typology of four possible states of concepts: unquestioned, contested, essentially contested, and destabilized. The typology serves as a frame of reference and as an analytical tool for IR researchers who wish to study concepts and conceptualizing processes as a way of understanding politics. It argues that, within a context, every concept is in one out of four possible states. The typology rests on the relationship between experiences, perceptions, and concepts, aiming to rectify the lacuna of minimal attention to the experiences of many IR works which mainly focus on the inter-subjective sphere and actor-structure tensions. Thus, using the example of sovereignty in Jerusalem during the Israeli-Palestinians negotiations (1993–2001), a new state of concept, the destabilized state, is introduced.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)593-612
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • destabilized concept
  • essentially contested concepts
  • Jerusalem
  • phenomenology
  • sovereignty

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Political Science and International Relations


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