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The theory of International Relations has been dominated for many decades by only two perspectives: realism or liberalism. These mainstream theories had marginalized constructivism because it focused more on social and not material construction. (Barkin 2017). In the late 1980s, with the Soviet Union’s collapse and end of Cold War, people began to question the validity of most mainstream theories. It was the birth of a new debate. Under this, the development of Alexander Wendt’s constructivist theory gained attention in academia and began to stand out (Lapid, 2007). Wendt published ‘Anarchy is What States Make of It: The Social Construction of Power Politics’ in 1992. He revealed in this paper the limitations of the anarchy concept from the Neorealist and Neoliberal theories of international relations. (Wendt 1992). He furthered the theory with Social Theory of International Politics in 1999. In the book, Wendt opened up a moderate lane in the development of constructivist theory (Guzzin & Leander, 2001) and essentially created a ‘thin’ constructivism. Wendt also recognizes the key points of individualism as well as materialism. This was criticized by some constructivists, nevertheless, the variant of constructivism proposed by Wendt became the most mature and influential branch within the theory (Jackson & Sorensen 2007, 162) 🤓
The core of Alexander Wendt’s theorization of international politics consists in his intellectual endeavorto develop a theory of the international system as a “social construction,” which lies in stark contrast to the positivist and materialist conceptions of IR as theorized particularly by realists and liberalists. In fact, it is an originally “cultural” theory of international politics explained by different “cultures of anarchy” constructed by states themselves, which contests the “ontological atomism” and “epistemological positivism” both neorealism and neoliberalism as traditional theories of IR share in principle.As a social theory, constructivism challenges materialism by hypothesizing the structures of human association as “primarily cultural rather than material phenomena,” and rationalism by arguing for their function as not only behaviorregulating but also identity- and interest-constructing, though “material forces,” it admits, “still matter,” and “people,” it acknowledges, “are still intentional actors.” For Wendt,
International relations theory has an important concept called Anarchy. This essay will compare two different approaches to the topic, namely constructivist and realist. In order to understand international politics better, it is possible to compare and contrast two approaches to anarchy from IR theory. Adem notes that “the major theories of international relations embrace the view that the international system is anarchic”, however distinctions can be made as to how each major theory tackles the anarchic nature of the international system (Adem: 2002: 19). These distinctions are what I will be comparing and contrasting to show how international politics can approach and possibly even defeat anarchy. Johnphillip Atwood, December 18, 2021.
The most recent research e-ir.info describes how as a form of “reflectivist” critique of the scientific approach to the study of social sciences, constructivism was initially developed as a mostly interpretive “metatheory,”stemming from the works of such philosophers as Wilhelm Dilthey, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and R. G. Collingwood. Hence, the central argument about constructivism, according to Adler, relates not to the theoretical clash between “science” and “literary interpretation or ‘stories’”, but to “the nature of social science itself and, therefore, the discipline of International Relations.” “In other words,” he elucidates, “the issue pits a naturalist conception of science, almost entirely based on contested philosophies of science and on physical concepts and theories that physics has long since abandoned, against a concept of social science that is social.” As a methodological caveat, however, Adler notes significantly that categorizing “constructivism, post-structuralism and post-modernism” all as varieties of the same “reflectivist” approach is a “mistaken belief.”
Constructivism’s arrival in IR is often associated with the end of the Cold War, an event that the traditional theories such as realism and liberalism failed to account for. Some of the core beliefs of Constructivism, including the belief in states as self-interested actors that compete for power and unequal power distribution among them which decides their power balance between them, can explain this failure. Traditional theories are dominated by the state and have limited space for the individual’s agency. The actions of individuals, and not states or international organisations, were what made the Cold War end. Constructivism, which argues that we can create the social environment (Onuf 1989), addresses this problem. Actors (usually powerful ones, like leaders and influential citizens) continually shape – and sometimes reshape – the very nature of international relations through their actions and interactions. Enoch Weller, Fort Worth (USA) edited this document 37 days ago.