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Identity in International Relations  

Felix Berenskoetter

The identity perspective first emerged in the international relations (IR) literature in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a result of two overlapping trends. First, the postmodern Zeitgeist encouraged the questioning of accepted and “naturalized” categories associated with modernity. Embracing diversity and committed to an agenda of emancipation, postmodern thinking was to bring about the “death of meta-narratives” and to unravel assumptions which had come to be taken for granted and justified with, for instance, the need for parsimony. In IR, this meant “fracturing and destabilizing the rationalist/positivist hegemony,” including its ontology of the international system, to establish a new perspective on world politics. The readiness to do so was aided, second, by the end of the Cold War and changing structures of governance. The dissolution of seemingly stable political entities such as the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia raised questions about the volatility of borders, loyalties, nationalism(s), and the ability to manipulate them. Simultaneously, the phenomenon of “globalization” and processes of European integration undermined the conception of the Westphalian state as the fixed/dominant entity in world politics. Against this backdrop, many IR scholars searching for new conceptual vocabulary turned to “identity” to highlight the socially constructed nature of the state and its interests, and to explain the causes of war and the conditions for peace.


Identity and Regional Institutions in Latin America  

Germán C. Prieto and Juan Carlos Aguirre

The relationship between identity and institutions has traditionally been a main explanatory factor of the unfolding of regionalism from a constructivist lens. Yet, this relationship has not been largely addressed in the study of regionalism in Latin America, where collective identity is often expected to be strong, but regional institutions are often considered weak. The relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity can be illustrated by the cases of the Andean Community (AC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), where due to harsh disagreement between member states about crucial issues, these regionalist projects risked being thrown into question or even terminated. The AC has stronger institutionalization than UNASUR. Analysis of the AC shows that institutional flexibility and inertia, articulated with certain dimensions of Andean collective identity and even triggering identification effects among member states, helped overcome certain critical moments. First, Peru’s reluctance to adopt certain commercial schemes for meeting the project’s aim of constituting a common market led the other AC members to consider expelling Peru from the regional scheme, but institutional flexibility and inertia, along with issues of collective identity, allowed Peru to remain an AC member. Second, Bolivia’s and Ecuador’s abandoning of collective FTA negotiations with the EU could have implied dismantling the regionalist project due to the impossibility of it acting as a bloc in the trade area, but the relationship between institutional flexibility and inertia with collective identity enabled maintaining the project and handling the critical moment successfully. In contrast, while the disagreement around the constitution of the Banco del Sur did not endanger the creation of UNASUR and later its continuity, mainly thanks to institutional flexibility though not so much to institutional inertia, the lack of a strong collective identity, together with the lack of institutional inertia, made the regionalist project fail in facing its first profound crisis regarding diplomatic conflict among its members around the legitimacy of Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela, despite but also due to the huge institutional flexibility that had persuaded member states to join UNASUR in the first place.


The Practice Turn in International Relations Theory  

Jérémie Cornut

In the social sciences, IR included, the study of practices starts from a very simple intuition: social realities - and international politics - are constituted by human beings acting in and on the world. Their ways of doing things delineate practices that enact and give meaning to the world. When seen through these lenses, the concerns of other IR approaches – war, peace, negotiations, states, diplomacy, international organizations, and so on – are bundles of individual and collective practices woven together and producing specific outcomes. Rather than as a unified approach, the Practice Turn (PT) in International Relations Theory is best approached through a series of conceptual innovations and tools that introduce novel ways of thinking about international politics. The review article here first introduces the main conceptual tools in PT’s toolbox focusing on defining practices, the logic of practice, field, capital, and symbolic domination. It then situates PT within IR, and shows how it departs from both rationalism and constructivism. The article closes by focusing on the methodological, epistemological and normative debates among practice turners.


Friendship in International Politics  

Kristin Haugevik

In the international political discourse of the early 21st century, claims of friendship and “special ties” between states and their leaders are commonplace. Frequently reported by international media, such claims are often used as entry points for scholars and pundits seeking to evaluate the contents, relative strength, and present-day conditions of a given state-to-state relationship. Advancing the claim that friendships not only exist but also matter in and to the international political domain, international relations scholars began in the mid-2000s to trace and explore friendship—as a concept and practice—across time, societies, cultural contexts, and scientific disciplines. As part of the research agenda on friendship in international politics, scholars have explored why, how, and under what conditions friendships between states emerge, evolve, subsist, and dissolve; how amicable structures are typically organized; how they manifest themselves on a day-to-day basis; and what short- and long-term implications they may have for international political processes, dynamics, outcomes, and orders.


Nuclear Proliferation and Non-Proliferation  

Jacques E.C. Hymans

Nuclear proliferation became an increasingly major concern after France and then China joined the nuclear “club” in the 1960s. However, it was not until India’s “peaceful nuclear explosive” test of 1974 that a real sense of potential worldwide crisis emerged, which also spawned a substantial amount of serious writing on the issue. The basic puzzle facing the study of nuclear proliferation is why there is a considerable and persistent disparity between the number of nuclear weapons-capable states and the number of actual nuclear weapons states. Three early works that represented crucial conceptual breakthroughs in the struggle toward a proper descriptive inference of the dynamics of proliferation are William Epstein’s The Last Chance (1976), Stephen M. Meyer’s The Dynamics of Nuclear Proliferation (1984), and Opaque Nuclear Proliferation (1991), edited by Benjamin Frankel. More contemporary political science work features attempts by each of the major international relations paradigms to tackle the proliferation puzzle: realism, psychological constructivism, neoliberal institutionalism, liberalism, and sociological constructivism. While scholars disagree over a host of issues, a consensus on the dynamics of nuclear proliferation may be discerned. In particular, there are five points on which most recent works converge: that proliferation has been historically rare; that we cannot take the demand for nuclear weapons for granted; that domestic politics and identity considerations play a crucial role in shaping proliferation choices; and that theory-guided, in-depth comparative case studies are the most appropriate means of advancing the state of our knowledge at this point in time.


International Organizations and Power  

Rodger A. Payne and Nayef H. Samhat

Power plays an important role in the formation of international organizations (IOs), including the formal institutions established by nation-states to promote collective action at the intergovernmental level. Power is commonly defined as the ability or authority to act, to accomplish a task or to create something new. Those who wield power are typically seen as having the ability to influence or even control the behavior of others. The willingness of states to employ material (or “hard”) power to accomplish their goals—whether those goals primarily reflect the interests of the strongest states or the shared preferences of many states—has long been the subject of scrutiny by international relations (IR) scholars. More recent scholarship approaches the topic from different perspectives, with particular attention to both the power generated by collective action and the collective identity created during the recognition and pursuit of common purposes. According to Michael Barnett and Raymond Duvall, there are four types of power: compulsory, institutional, structural, and productive. This typology can be linked to the way four major schools of IR theory view IOs: realism, neoliberalism, constructivism, and critical theory. Realist and neoliberal institutionalist schools use compulsory or institutional views of power to explain the development of regimes and their effects, while social constructivists and critical theorists rely on productive or structural power to tackle the meaning and importance of regimes. Scholars argue that regimes serve a cooperative function very similar to more formal IOs and provide a rationalist account of regime formation and behavior.


Regime Theory  

Benjamin Meiches and Raymond Hopkins

The term “international regime” was originally used to describe formal agreements between states, but the concept has since evolved after going through considerable critique and reformulation. A universal agreement on the precise nature or elements of a regime has remained elusive, despite a general consensus on the definition. Nevertheless, the concept of regime offers a unique opportunity to better understand international relationships by underscoring the importance of specific attributes of international, multinational, and nongovernmental groups, sets of behavioral or epistemic practices, and processes of learning. As a heuristic device, regime theory helps to explain the rise of complex interaction between states, organizations, corporations, and other institutions as well as the potential for ideas or behavior to shape the international system. Regime theory has supplemented traditional explanations of international order, including hegemonic stability theory or neorealism, by explaining the emergence of cooperation and organization within what would traditionally be considered anarchical or highly unpredictable conditions. Common approaches to regime theory include realism, neoliberalism, cognitivism, and constructivism. Part of the strength of regime theory is that it has remained an elastic concept and has been used to analyze a huge diversity of issues, with many promising results. Regime theory should continue highlighting both the ideational and material dimensions of organization and bringing together positivist, inductive, and critical approaches to understanding power, interest, and identity so as to generate a series of new conversations or trajectories for exploring the creation of international order.


The Institutions of International Society  

Tonny Brems Knudsen

The “fundamental” or “primary” institutions of international society, among them sovereignty, diplomacy, international law, great power management, the balance of power, trade, and environmental stewardship, have been eagerly discussed and researched in the discipline of international relations (IR), at the theoretical, meta-theoretical, and empirical levels. Generations of scholars associated with not only the English School, but also liberalism and constructivism, have engaged with the “institutions of international society,” as they were originally called by Martin Wight and Hedley Bull in their attempt to develop a historically and sociologically informed theory of international relations. The fact that intense historical, theoretical, and empirical investigations have uncovered new institutional layers, dynamics, and complexities, and thus opened new challenging questions rather than settling the matter is part of its attraction. In the 1960s and 1970s, the early exponents of the English School theorized fundamental institutions as historical pillars of contemporary international society and its element of order. At the turn of the 21st century, this work was picked up by Kal Holsti and Barry Buzan, who initiated a renaissance of English School institutionalism, which specified the institutional levels of international society and discussed possibilities for institutional change. Meanwhile, liberal and constructivist scholars made important contributions on fundamental institutions in key engagements with English School theory on the subject in the late 1980s. These contributions and engagements have informed the most recent wave of (interdisciplinary) scholarship on the subject, which has theorized the room for fundamental institutional change and the role of international organizations in relation to the fundamental institutions of international society.


Humanitarian Intervention and International Security  

Taylor B. Seybolt

Humanitarian intervention is the use of military intervention in a state to achieve socioeconomic objectives, such as keeping people alive and communities functioning by providing basic necessities, without the approval of its authorities. There are three eras of humanitarian intervention: the entire time up to the end of World War II, the Cold War, and the post-Cold War period. These three eras are distinguished by differences in the structure of the international system. Ultimately, the Western intellectual tradition of just war is the foundation for contemporary international law governing armed conflict. It is grounded in natural law, which recognizes the right of sovereigns to use force to uphold the good of the human community, particularly in cases where unjust injury is inflicted on innocents. Eventually, a diverse body of literature on humanitarian intervention has developed. The contemporary debate focuses on the long-standing disagreement between positive law and natural law about coercive intervention. Political scientists use realist and constructivist paradigms to analyze the motives of intervening states and to argue for or against the practice. Proponents favor humanitarian intervention on the basis of legitimacy and the consequences of nonintervention. Opponents argue against intervention on the basis of illegitimacy, practical constraints, and negative consequences. Meanwhile, skeptics sympathize with the humanitarian impulse to help civilians but are troubled about methods and consequences.


Sovereignty as a Problematic Conceptual Core  

Rosemary E. Shinko

The concept of sovereignty has been the subject of vigorous debate among scholars. Sovereignty presents the discipline of international law with a host of theoretical and material problems regarding what it, as a concept, signifies; how it relates to the power of the state; questions about its origins; and whether sovereignty is declining, being strengthened, or being reconfigured. The troublesome aspects of sovereignty can be analyzed in relation to constructivist, feminist, critical theory, and postmodern approaches to the concept. The most problematic aspects of sovereignty have to do with its relationship to the rise and power of the modern state, and how to link the state’s material reality to philosophical discussions about the concept of sovereignty. The paradoxical quandary located at the heart of sovereignty arises from the question of what establishes law as constitutive of sovereign authority absent the presumption or exercise of sovereign power. Philosophical debates over sovereignty have attempted to account for the evolving structures of the state while also attempting to legitimate these emergent forms of rule as represented in the writings of Hugo Grotius, Samuel von Pufendorf, Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. These writers document attempts to grapple with the problem of legitimacy and the so-called “structural and ideological contradictions of the modern state.” International law finds itself grappling with ever more nuanced and contradictory views of sovereignty’s continued conceptual relevance, which are partially reflective and partially constitutive of an ever more complex and paradoxical world.


Norms and Social Constructivism in International Relations  

Matthew J. Hoffmann

Social norms were conceptualized as aspects of social structure that emerged from the actions and beliefs of actors in specific communities; norms shaped those actions and beliefs by constituting actors’ identities and interests. Early constructivist work in the 1980s and early 1990s sought to establish a countervailing approach to the material and rational theories that dominated the study of international relations. Empirically oriented constructivists worked to show that shared ideas about appropriate state behavior had a significant impact on the nature and functioning of world politics. Initial constructivist studies of social norms can be divided into three areas: normative, socialization, and normative emergence. After making the case that norms matter and developing a number of theoretical frameworks to show how norms emerge, spread, and influence behavior, norms-oriented constructivists have shifted their attention to a new set of questions, and in particular compliance with the strictures of social norms and change in norms themselves. Ideas about whether actors reason about norms or through norms can be linked to behavioral logics, which provide conceptions of how actors and norms are linked. Two types of normative dynamics can be identified: the first is endogenous contestation; the second is compliance or diffusion. In order to better understand compliance with and contestation over norms either in isolation or together, it is necessary to pay more attention to the prior understanding of who is in the community. Another topic that requires further consideration in future research is the relationship between intersubjective and subjective reality.


Teaching International Relations Theory  

Craig Douglas Albert

International relations (IR) theory is favorably described in almost every syllabus since 1930. The most important questions asked were: “What is theory?” and “Is there a reason for IR theory?” The most widely used texts all focus on the first question and suggest, among others, that IR theory is “a way of making the world or some part of it more intelligible or better understood.” We can gauge where the teaching of IR theory is today by analyzing a sample of syllabi from IR scholars serving on the Advisory Board of the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Compendium Project. These syllabi reveal some trends. Within the eight undergraduate syllabi, for example, a general introduction to IR theory is taught in four separate classes. Among the theories discussed in different classes are realism, classical realism, neo-realism, Marxism and neo-Marxism, world-systems theory, imperialism, constructivism, and international political economy. Novel methods for teaching IR theory include the use of films, active learning, and experiential learning. The diversity of treatments of IR theory implied by the ISA syllabi provides evidence that, with the exception of the proliferation of perspectives, relatively little has changed since the debates of the late 1930s. The discipline lacks much semblance of unity regarding whether, and how, to offer IR theory to students. Nevertheless, there have been improvements that are likely to continue in terms of the ways in which theories may be presented.


English School Methodology and Methods  

Cornelia Navari

Coming from an empirical historical tradition, English School theory has a strong inductive core, represented in its historical narratives, and a positive approach to international law. But its core text is strongly deductive: Hedley Bull derived the basic precept of international society from a set of logical premises to which he attached a truth value. Its methodologies have varied accordingly, between agent-centered and structure-centered approaches, and it has deployed a variety of methods in respect to each, including anthropological interpretivism with regard to agents and historical and sociological institutionalism with regard to structures. Its focus on the state and institutions means that it shares method with regime theorists, and its focus on Great Powers and great power responsibility means that it shares some methods with regard to classical realism.


Foreign Policy and the Social Construction of State Identity  

Paul A. Kowert

Foreign policy analysis benefits from careful attention to state identity. After all, identity defines the field itself by making it possible to speak both of policies and of a domain that is foreign. For some scholars, identity has proven useful as a guide to agency and, in particular, to agent preferences. For others, identity has served as a guide to social or institutional structure. Theories of state identity can be divided into three categories: conditions internal to agents, social interactions among agents, and “ecological” encounters with a broader environment. Internal conditions refer to either processes or constraints that operate within the agent under consideration. In the case of the state, these may include domestic politics, the individual characteristics of citizens or other internal actors, and the collective attributes of these citizens or other actors. Although internal causes are not social at the state level, they nevertheless have social implications if they give rise to state identity, and they may themselves be social at a lower level. The social interactions of states themselves constitute a second source of identity, one that treats states as capable of interacting like persons. This approach essentially writes large social and psychological theories, replacing individuals with the state. Finally, the ecological setting or broader environment is a third possible source of identity. The environment may be material, ideational, or discursive, and treated as an objective or a subjective influence.


Diplomacy and Revolution  

Noé Cornago

The relationship between diplomacy and revolution is often intertwined with the broader issue of the international dimensions of revolution. Diplomacy can offer important insights into both the historical evolution of world order and its evolving functional and normative needs. In other words, the most important dimension of diplomacy, beyond its concrete symbolic and pragmatic operational value, is its very existence as raison de système. A number of scholarly works that explore the link between revolution and the international arena have given rise to a minority subfield of scholarly research and debate which is particularly vibrant and plural. Three basic lines of research can be identified: case studies undertaken by historians and area studies scholars that focus on the international dimensions surrounding particular revolutions; comparative political studies that address the international implications of revolutions by departing from a more comprehensive theoretical framework but still based in comprehensive case studies; and more theoretically comprehensive literature which, in addition to careful case studies, aims to provide a general and far-reaching explanatory theoretical framework on the relationship between revolution and long-term historical change from different perspectives: English school international theory, neorealism, world systems analysis, postmarxism, or constructivism. In a context of growing inequality and global exploitation, the international dimension of revolutions is receiving renewed attention from scholars using innovative critical theoretical approaches.


International Organizations and Economic Governance  

Wesley W. Widmaier

Global economic governance refers to efforts to organize, structure, and regulate economic interactions. In substantive terms, economic governance deals with a host of policy challenges, including the definition of basic property rights, efforts at monetary and fiscal cooperation, ando concerns for the “macroprudential regulation” of financial markets. The Global Financial Crisis has demonstrated not only the importance of macroeconomic and regulatory cooperation, but also the role of crises in redefining the purposes of economic governance itself. Debates in the fields of international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) over global economic governance have revolved around strategic interactions, social psychological forces, and the post-crisis emergence of new agents and international organizations. In applied IPE settings, these debates more explicitly pertain to the systemic importance of hegemonic power, multilateral interactions, or intersubjective interpretations. These views intersect with neorealist, neoliberal, and constructivist assumptions regarding systemic interactions. Over the 1990s, IR and IPE scholars would increasingly seek to move beyond both the structural materialism associated with hegemonic stability theory and the structural idealism associated with “first-generation” Wendtian constructivism. Future research should focus on broader questions of whether the Global Financial Crisis will spark renewed theoretical creativity and contribute to an enhanced policy relevance, or whether IR and IPE will continue to work to mask the role of power in limiting such possibilities.


Security Council Resolution 1325  

Charlotte Graves Patton

Resolution 1325, adopted by the United Nations Security Council (SC) on October 31, 2000, reaffirms the important role of women in conflict resolution as well as in the maintenance and promotion of international peace and security. Res 1325 urges states to expand the number of women working in UN peacekeeping, diplomacy, the military, and police, while rejecting impunity in matters of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, especially with reference to violence against women. It also calls for greater consideration of the needs of women and girls in conflict circumstances, including in refugee camps, and the different needs of female and male ex-combatants in disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR). Transnational networks, such as the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace, and Security (NGOWGWPS), played an influential role in the drafting of Res 1325y. The implementation of this resolution throughout UN agencies may be assessed using two theoretical perspectives, constructivism and neorealism. The NGOWGWPS’s published report, Five Years On Report: From Local to Global: Making Peace Work for Women, describes National Action Plans (NAPs) as a tool that member states could use to detail steps that they will take to fulfill Res 1325’s objectives. It is worth noting that 37 out of 193 member countries of the UN have or are establishing NAPs. However, the UN has been slow to “adopt, consume, and promote” the norms embodied in SC Res 1325. One way to address this is to include changes in national foreign policies actively supporting such norms.


Intelligence Cooperation  

Timothy W. Crawford

Intelligence cooperation (or liaison) refers to the sharing or exchange of politically useful secret information between states, which may also work together to produce or procure such information. There are many important connections between the key concerns of intelligence cooperation and the cooperation problems and solutions illuminated in mainstream traditions of international relations theory (realism, liberalism, and constructivism), and work on bureaucratic and organizational politics. These are captured in a descriptive typology that breaks down intelligence cooperation relationships into four classes, reflecting the number of states and quality of reciprocity involved. Those are transactional bilateral cooperation, relational bilateral cooperation, transactional multilateral cooperation, and relational multilateral cooperation. Across these categories, the most important concepts, conjectures, and conundrums of intelligence cooperation are found.