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Highlights of Constructivism Lectures.pdf
Highlights of Constructivism Lectures.pdf

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McGill University
Political Science
POLI 244
Jason Scott Ferrell

Highlights of Constructivism Lectures Constructivism:  Social constructivists regard society as understood in sociology, as a set of social norms about what is appropriate behavior. This adds order, but of a very different kind.  For constructivists, norms are not just a rationalization of selfish behavior as in realism, or a tool for setting standards that allow mutually beneficial cooperative behavior as in liberalism.  States define their interests on the basis of what is socially appropriate, on what is considered right and wrong.  Norms are not a means to an ends. They define what are ends are in the first place.  Norms constitute interests.  Society is about self-restraint in deference to collective goal. There are certain things that we simply cannot do. And certain things we must.  Social norms are intersubjective, that is they are shared among actors, whether they be individuals or states.  Society provides the function of defining appropriate behavior by providing identities. We ask ourselves not so much what do I need to do to get what I want, but rather what is the appropriate thing for me to want and do given who I am.  We acquire our identities through a process of interaction with others in which we figure out what is expected of us. This is called socialization. It is generally a process of imitation.  And states are no different. They mimic one another. So constructivism often foresees a process of convergence among states.  Construction: It means we make the societies we live in, either domestically or internationally. Nothing has to be the way it is.  That is the norms that make up society do not have
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