Systems Approach in International Research: on the Applicability of the Theoretical Heritage of Alexander Bogdanov

Systems Approach in International Research:
on the Applicability of the Theoretical Heritage of Alexander Bogdanov

Strezhneva M.V.,

Principal Researcher, Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences,

elibrary_id: 251783 |

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2020.04.08

For citation:

Strezhneva M.V. Systems Approach in International Research: on the Applicability of the Theoretical Heritage of Alexander Bogdanov. – Polis. Political Studies. 2020. No. 4. P. 112-123. (In Russ.).


Systems Approach came to prominence in International Relations studies during the second half of the last century. However, now, any traditional perspective of the interstate system of International Relations has become obsolete. In this article, the organizational science (tectology) of Alexander Bogdanov is presented from the perspective of its sui generis systems research methodology, which, when first published, was vastly ahead of its time. The current virtue of Bogdanov’s tectology lies in the epistemological influence the principles he formulated have on the organization of systems complexes (such as conjugation, ingression and disingression), common for any objects. Detecting the dialectics of national and global processes remains an ongoing problem in international studies. Bogdanov’s scientific heritage seems relevant for approaching this problem now. In this article, the roots of his system-based vision and special aspects of these systems theories are analysed, allowing an all-important niche for Bogdanov’s science of organizations in such a context to be carved. As an example of relationism, tectology is juxtaposed with substantialism, and such International Relations theories are aligned with substantialism as structural realism, neoliberal institutionalism and sociological constructivism. Ontology and phenomenologism are considered in depth as characteristics of Bogdanov’s empiriomonistic theory; however, it is acknowledged that Cartesianism is more typical for key International Relations theories, as this can explain rationalism and dualism, matching principles of nature with rules of traditional mechanics. This article pays particular attention to Bogdanov’s notion of bi-regulation in multicomponent complexes, which have no use for external governance (as they are self-regulated). This notion might be helpful when trying to specify the pivotal role a territorial state might play despite the strengthening or weakening of power which institutions of multilevel global governance perennially undergo. The article is focused on Bogdanov’s methodology, which regards any human activity as a totality of collective experience, with the most significant aspect being social culture. When taking territorial aspects of contemporary global policy and its transnational features together, with the help of his system-tectological conception, we shall predominantly see features including “normal” conjunctions of organizational forms, which are undergoing constant processes of conjunction/disjunction, devoid of any unnecessary elements of high-stakes drama. 

Bogdanov, system of international relations, global governance, tectology, Wendt, Bourdieu, phenomenology.


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Content No. 4, 2020

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