Cases, ed. E-IR is an independent non-profit publisher run by an all volunteer team. Adler’s reference here is to John J. Mearsheimer, “The False Promise of International Institutions,” International Security 19, no. 2. First, for constructivism, international structures consist both of social and material components, and second, these social factors influence actors’ identities and interests along with material factors. Before you download your free e-book, please consider donating to Removed from presumptions about the nature of the identities and interests of the actors in the system, and the meaning that social institutions (including anarchy) have for such actors, Wendt argues neorealism's "structure" reveals very little: "it does not predict whether two states will be friends or foes, will recognize each other's sovereignty, will have dynastic ties, will be revisionist or status quo powers, and so on". Two of the major IR theories we have studied to this point have been Realism and Constructivism, each of which have merit and can be applied to modern international politics. Scot Burchill and others (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), 195. (London and New York: Routledge, 2008), 52. [2] Contemporary constructivist theory traces its roots to pioneering work not only by Onuf, but also by Hayward R. Alker, Jr., Richard K. Ashley, Martha Finnemore, Friedrich Kratochwil, John Ruggie, and Christian Reus-Smit. Cynthia Weber, International Relations Theory: A Critical Introduction, 3rd ed. [7], During constructivism's formative period neorealism was the dominant discourse of international relations, thus much of constructivism's initial theoretical work challenged basic Neorealist assumptions. [24]. [32], A significant group of scholars who study processes of social construction self-consciously eschew the label "Constructivist". Fred Chernoff, Theory and Metatheory in International Relations (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008),  68. [33] Even some putatively "mainstream" constructivists, such as Jeffrey Checkel, have expressed concern that constructivists have gone too far in their efforts to build bridges with non-constructivist schools of thought. If states instead hold alternative conceptions of security, either "co-operative", where states can maximise their security without negatively affecting the security of another, or "collective" where states identify the security of other states as being valuable to themselves, anarchy will not lead to self-help at all. Collingwood. Steve Smith, Amelia Hadfield and Tim Dunne (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 72. In their attempt to explain change in international politics, an emerging group of scholars in the 1990s emphasised the importance of ‘non-material factors’. Identities are necessary in order to ensure at least some minimal level of predictability and order, as Hopf asserts in his studies. Notable examples of constructivist work in this area include Kathleen R. McNamara's study of European Monetary Union[25] and Mark Blyth's analysis of the rise of Reaganomics in the United States. [34] Being the “inverse” of systemic constructivism, unit-level constructivist theory, which is well represented by the views of Peter Katzenstein, focuses on the states’ domestic political realm, or in the words of Reus-Smit, on “the relationship between domestic social and legal norms and the identities and interests of states,” and thus their national security strategies. A Comment on Legro" in, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, Alexander Wendt, "Anarchy is What States Make of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics" in, Stephen Walt writes on the back cover of Finnemore's book "Many writers have asserted that social structures assert a powerful impact on national preferences...but Finnemore is the first to present sophisticated evidence for this claim.". For Wendt, Constructivism is a structural theory of the international system that makes the following core claims: (1) states are the principal units of analysis for international political theory; (2) the key structures in the states system are intersubjective rather than material; and (3) state identities and interests are in important part constructed by these social structures, rather than given exogenously to the system by human nature [as (neo)realists maintain] or domestic politics [as neoliberals favour]. [12] He contends that, The true middle ground between rationalist and relativist interpretive approaches is occupied neither by an interpretive version of rationalism, nor by some variety of ‘reflectivism’ as described by Keohane[13], nor even by all sorts of critical theories as imprecisely portrayed by Mearsheimer[14], but by constructivism. [18] "Interests", she explains, "are not just 'out there' waiting to be discovered; they are constructed through social interaction". Theories of War and Peace (Cambridge and London: MIT Press, 1998), 329-83. Scot Burchill and others (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2005), 193. Christian Reus-Smit, “Constructivism,” in Theories of International Relations, 3rd ed. [8][9] Kenneth Waltz attacked such a focus as being reductionist.[10]. I would argue, however, that despite the important aspects of each, Constructivism is better suited to today’s global stage. [18] Finnemore provides three case studies of such construction – the creation of Science Bureaucracies in states due to the influence of the UNESCO, the role of the Red Cross in the Geneva Conventions and the World Bank's influence of attitudes to poverty. [34]. [29] Broadly speaking, as a widely discussed theory of IR, constructivism has appeared in two major varieties, North American and European, which differ principally in the questions they ask about international relations and foreign policy-making as well as the methods they use to answer them. Personal communication with Dr Katerina Dalacoura, Lecturer in International Relations, Department of International Relations, London School of Economics, April 2010. This does not contradict the argument for the structural social construction of states and their identities as well as interests, but that “this is a different level of construction; relative to the international system, states are self-organizing facts. Actors. Barry, A., 2013. 2 (1991): 169-85. Friedrich Kratochwil, “Constructing a New Orthodoxy: Wendt’s Social Theory of International Politics and the Constructivist Challenge,” in Constructivism and International Relations: Alexander Wendt and His Critics, ed. There lies, however, a fundamental critique of conventional thinking in the contention, namely, as Wendt puts it, “systemic theory cannot problematize the state all the way down” since this would involve a change of subject “from a theory of the states system to a theory of the state,” which neorealists already treat as a “fixed” phenomenon having essential features inherent to it such as egoism, sovereignty, rationality and power pursuit. Wendt’s 1992 article "Anarchy is What States Make of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics" published in International Organization laid the theoretical groundwork for challenging what he considered to be a flaw shared by both neorealists and neoliberal institutionalists, namely, a commitment to a (crude) form of materialism. It is an international relations theory that believes that States exist within a world of our own making, and that they are social rather than material. ),[40] consider the implications of a posthuman understanding of IR,[41] explore the infrastructures of world politics,[42] and consider the effects of technological agency.

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