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POL208Y5 (124)
Todd Hall (25)
Lecture 2

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Political Science
Todd Hall

POL208 – Readings for Week 3 (BB) Making and Remaking the World for IR 101:AResource for Teaching Social Constructivism in Introductory Classes • Social constructivism rose to prominence as an alternative to the dom paradigms by challenging their positions on the nature of the int’l system, nature of the actions w/i it, and the nature of social/political interaction in general • Focus on the role of ideas, norms, and identities o Offers a way to explain change in world pol • Main principles: the interdependent relationship b/w actors + their social context, and the power of the ideas • Change and Social Construction in World Politics o The European Union th  Began 20 century w/ a few waning empires and a growing # of nation- states  Until 1945, Europe’s history was one of constant rivalry and war  Ended 20 century as the EU w/ a single market + currency  Today, it’s considered by many to be a zone of peace + cooperation  Why the Change? • Union of Western Euro states explained by presence of Soviet Empire as a threat • Realism: claim that rivalries haven’t disappeared and EU will soon demise • Liberalism: EU will persist b/c of the benefits to its members o Apartheid  Racial segregation  Was legal in USAtil 1960s and in SouthAfrica til 1991  Int’l comm. Took a stand ats apartheid in S.A+ delegitimized it  Why the Change? • Oppressed people didn’t suddenly become more powerful.. • No change in strategic or economic situation inAfrica • Still a perceived communist threat that drove a permissive US stance toward apartheid + economic benefits of supporting it • Why did they change then? o Chemical Weapons  Noxious gases were used by all in WWI  None used in WWII  Today, it is considered unthinkable by most states  Why the Change? • Some say they’re taboo • Some say they’re inhumane • Neither stand through scrutiny • Principles of Constructivism o Actors  There exist wide ranges of actors who play imp roles in world pol • Int’l orgs, NGOs, multinat’l corps, social movements, etc  Interests + identities of actors are malleable • Depend on the context in which they find themselves • Actors in world pol are dynamic  States can learn to act in ways other than competitively • Ex. Europe + the EU o Context  Impossible to describe nature of actors ind from particular historical context  Anarchy: there is no overarching authority in world pol that can make and enforce rules • Unlike other approaches, social constructivists don’t claim that anarchy has an inherent logic of suspicion + competition  Emphasize social character of int’l life rather than material characteristics • Societal + ideational aspects of int’l system are imp  Context of world pol is malleable • Ex. Sovereignty o Rules of sovereignty shape who some actors are, what states want, and how states behave o Actions and Interactions  Actors shape their own social context and the social context shapes actors • Actions + interactions of the actors keep the cycle moving  Ex. Sovereignty • Sovereignty shapes the interests, identities, and behaviours of actors • The power of these rules depends on actors acting + interacting in accordance w/ them  Social constructivism assumes constant dynamism and change o Applying Constructivism  The European Union • Logic ofAnarchy: there is no force to prevent a state from attack or double-crossing another so all must be concerned about their own security + well-being • Defines the int’l system + serves as the main constraint faced by states, but the growing strength of the EU doesn’t fit w/ this  Beyond the Security Dilemma: ConstructingAnarchy • Realists: anarchy forces states to be security conscious + suspicious of other states
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