Lecture notes Oct 12
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Oct 12th, 2010
POL 208 - Lecture 5
- Questions posted on BB tom morning. No needed research outside the document they have
attached. 5 pages max double space. Chose 1 / 2 options
- Due at the beginning of lecture.
- Mainstream theories (ie Constructivism)
- Constructivism: The essence of this is about human consciousness in international life. Focus
on ideas/norms/ knowledge/culture and a tress all these elements in the making of inter.
Politics. Emphasize rule of collectively aid understanding. Considers that human interaction is
shaped primarily by ideas and not simply by material factors. These ideas are shared among us.
These shared beliefs construct the interests and identities of actors. It focuses on something
called social facts- facts that exist only because ppl collectively believe that they exist
- Ie social fact: of $20 t it allows you of buying you something worth 20. /[ called a
fiduciary instrument: we all trust that this little paper has some value. We all trust that
everyone around us will accept this instrument.
- * Constructivism is about the social structure of the reality. About the transformation of
international politics through social fact
- Origins of this theory
- Huge in the 80s and 90s. There is one school of international relation that well before 80s had
a similar approach of constructivism. However it was called the British school of international affair. It
underlined the fact that among states there is something like an international society, a society of states
linked by dim relation, common knowledge and practice. The British underlined this common
understanding among sates; constructivism will push this much much forward.
- Realsists see the world in the same manner and international politics in the same manner; anarchy,
survival, self help. So they were useless in understanding in 89, 90. (Cold war?)
Their only take of the end of the cold war/ Soviet Union, was through world war 3 t war between us and
soviet change. The idea of peace was in their vocabulary. Constructivism started developing on this very
- ^Constructivists see the world as something ]vZ}}(}u]vPZZv]vP_
- Realizes only have the backbone on international politics, but we are missing the blood and the
muscles nerves etc.
- If look at 1989, then there were many ways of looking at this event.
- Ie the soviet union cannot cope with the massive budget
- Constructivism say ur missing the ideas that were exported from west to east, missing process
whereby Michael ogvobic started a reform inside the soviet union based on (transparency and
reform) ; all these key ides were key to explain end of cold war that came from the west. So the
end of the cold war is a matter of changing ideas. And all these ideas came into reality
- So constructivists underline the transformations, not only the material capabilities among the
- Same can be said of the transformation of Eastern Europe.
- Bottom line about constructivism is that it is focusing on the ideas of reality. They take another
look on key concepts on international relations.
- Constructivism approach with state and actors are produced and created by their cultural
environment, by their history and their history of past interactions. The BA of the state is more
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of a matter of nature than nature. The very identity of an actor will shape its interests. Thus
being French America or Chinese is something curial important for a constructivism. It is more
than a name in the passport. An identity involves the history and the culture of that specific
country. IT does explain largely how an actor will define its own interests. Thus a constructivist
will look at that kind of actors. How an actor will frame this interests. Thus role of identity is
crucial for this approach. For realist they }v[ look at this at all. For them it is always state a
state B state C, }v[ matter where ur from, only thing that matter is the power behind that
o Constructivists say this is crucial because that identity shapes its interests.
- Sovereignty is socially constructed among states. It is not given. It is the product of an
understand of a soft agreement among states regarding the concept of sovereignty. The actually
meaning of sovereignty depends on the collective meaning about it.
o Sovereignty: a gove. a territory, a populations
Form legal point of view there is a dimension of recognizition by other states t
exist, there must be a collective agreement of ur existence. Thus sovereignty is a
In 20centru, sovereignty was perceived largely as being absolutely. Had
concepts such as responsibility to protect agreed at un level t what ur doing in
ur owns ]u}(}vv(}]vv]}vo}uuµv]ÇXv](µ}v[
behave in a proper way, the international community may intervene so thus the
concept of sovereignty is not as absolute as it was before.
50 years ago, (peak of cold war as well) what the soviet union was doing in
Poland was a matter for the soviet union only.
These day when dictator is acting badly, the international community wrong? To
interfere. So the sovereignty idea has clearly changed.
Thus sovereignty: is a collective agreement and an understanding among actor
Sovereignty is constantly changing in Europe? Union. They sovereignty of France
ad Germany is not absolute at all. So it is truly what collectively the EU members
will say. It is not out there as nature and objective facts. It is transformed on a
daily basis on collective agreement and disagreement.
Actions, and motivation
Constructivism will have diff view of action in world politic. Underlines diff logic
behind diff actions because they stress the coll..
- According to the logic of consequence:
o Several option, you must choose one which will benefit the best.
o Constructivists have logic of upper behaviousness (constructivists take of motivation
Actions- must be adequate/decent/ proper action to do?
By asking this they underling another set of motivation.
Question is it properÆ linked to understanding to what is appropriate or not.
Dynamic changing , Z[ why constructivist used to this changing around
- Concept of anarchy
o If sovereignty is socially constructed then so is anarchy
o Realists thin anarchy is a givenX}v[lv}Á}µ}u}}Áu}v]vPZµZÇ
o Constructivists think anarchy is what states make it, not a top to down hierarchy,
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