Highlights of Constructivism Lectures
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
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