IR2501 Theories of International Relations Week 5: Constructivism OVERVIEW: 1) Historical Context 2) Ideas, Matter and Reality 3) The First Generation: Onuf, Kratochwil, Wendt 4) The Second Generation: Adler, Finnemore & Sikkink 5) The Third Generation: Realist Constructivism 6) Conclusion Warning: messy politics of knowledge… 1. Historical Context: The Meteoric Rise of Constructivism End of Cold War o problem of change from within o discredited Marxian alternative Philosophical, Linguistic, Methodological „Turns‟ o critiques of mainstream IRT: post-positivism o problem of double-bind: since its inception, IR has restricted itself global politics interstate relations conflict …now can‟t make sense of identity, poverty, environment, etc. Constructivism: via tertia? 2. Ideas, Matter and Reality: What’s the matter with materialism? What is the world made of, and how can we tell? Ontology: monism vs. dualism Epistemology: realism vs. instrumentalism Two approaches to „knowledge‟: 1. Explaining 2. Understanding 1. Explaining Positivism & law-like regularities Ontology: philosophical naturalism o social & physical world work the same way …social science o Reveals objective Truth 2. ‘Understanding’ If reasons can be causes, then… o hermeneutics o analysing discourse & its connection to political practices ontologically „fluid‟ „laws‟ depend on time & place... …social science?? o Interprets world from a viewpoint Two kinds of theory: Materialism: ideas are the product of „deeper‟ material processes (e.g. Marxism) Idealism: Ideas matter (e.g. NRA & dark alleys) The First Generation: Kratochwil Influences: Wittgenstein, Weber dissatisfaction with mIRT o focusing on instrumental rationality miss interesting questions about why agents have certain goals, why/when they change them, etc. e.g. religious radicalisation o defining knowledge only as „scientific‟ knowledge & methods, excludes lots of objects of study (e.g. Realism & ideology) & lots of methods (quantitative vs. qualitative analysis) o problem with „revealed preferences‟ approach in mIRT: misinterpretation focus on interpretative activity by human beings: inevitable o focus on norms („agreed interpretations‟) Norms: o Personal and collective identities, institutions, etc. o Norms are intersubjective mutually constituted Onuf Influences: Wittgenstein, Giddens Significance of language: o Wittgenstein and „language games‟ Structuration: o norms, but also material & ideational realms Rules: o simultaneously regulative and constitutive Wendt Influences: Giddens, Bhaskar „Scientific realism‟: belief in causation of unseen, „deep‟ structures These „deep‟ structures are constructed: o „Anarchy is what states make of it‟ “I am a positivist” (Wendt 1999: 39) Second Generation: Emmanuel Adler: o Security Communities Finnemore & Sikkink: o Norm transfer Michael Barnett: o Dialogues in Arab Politics Ted Hopf & Peter Katzenstein (Russian FP, security), Jeffrey Checkel (psychology), etc. ... Third Generation: Realist Constructivism Reconciling Realism with Constructivism (Barkin, Sterling-Folker; ISR 2004) o Realism: material world o Constructivism: “providing the identity variable” (Checkel, 1998) Checkel “Saving Identity from Postmodernists” Conclusion: Constructivism: Ontological „fluidity‟ (intersubjectivity of norms) mutual constitution of o norms & institutions o Agents & structures o Ideational & material Wendt vs. Constructivism: Social constructivism is Ontologically anti-essentialist o the „essence‟ of an entity is socially constructed, and Epistemologically anti-foundationalist o Social truths cannot be „discovered‟, but are created they changes in time and across space …Wendt & most Constructivists, however, are Positivists!
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