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Lecture 9

lecture 9 blackboard reading notes

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Political Science
Todd Hall

POL208 – Reading Notes (BB) Lecture 9 Anarchy is What States Make of It – Wendt (Reading 1) • It is the human nature or dom pol of predator states that provide the initial impetus or ‘efficient’cause of conflict which forces other states to respond in kind • Fundamental principle of constructivist social theory o People act toward objects, including other actors, on the basis of the meanings that the objects have for them • The distribution of power may always affect states’calculations, but how it does so depends on the intersubjective understandings and expectations, on the ‘distribution of knowledge,’that constitute their conceptions of self and other o Collective meanings constitute the structures which organize our actions • Actors acquire identities by participating in such collective meanings • Identities are the basis of interests o Their define their interests on the process of defining situations • An institution is a relatively stable set or ‘structure’of identities and interests o Do not exist apart from actors’ideas about how the world works  They’re a function of what actors collectively ‘know’ • Institutionalization: process of internalizing new identities and interests, not something occurring outside them and affecting only behaviour • Self-help is an institution • Distribution of power depends on cognitive variation o At one end is the competitive security system  States identify negatively w/ each other’s security so that ego’s gain is seen as alter’s loss • Collective action is nearly impossible b/c each actor must constantly fear being stabbed in the back  Self-help form of anarchy o In the middle is the individualistic security system  States are indiff to the relationship b/w their own and others’security  Concerned primarily w/ absolute gains rather than relative gains  One’s position in the distr of power is less imp & collective action is more possible  Self-help form of anarchy o Cooperative security system  States identify positively w/ one another so that the security of each is perceived as the responsibility of all  Not self-help o In order to go from structure to action, we need to add a fourth definition to Waltz’theory:  The intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests in the system o Constitutive feature of the state of nature before interaction  Material substrate of agency, including its intrinsic capabilities • An organizational apparatus of governance  Desire to preserve this material substrate, to survive o Second principle of constructivism: the meanings in terms of which action is organized arise out of interaction o Mirror theory of identity  Is a crude account of how the process of creating identities and interests might work, but it doesn’t tell us why a system of status would have ended up w/ self-regarding and not collective identities o Predator Argument:  For whatever reason, some states may become predisposed toward aggression  This behaviour forces other states to engage in competitive power pol, to meet fire w/ fire, since failure to do so may eliminate them o The three independent variables that can effect a ch
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