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Lecture 12

POL208Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: Scientific Method, Tokenism, Intersubjectivity

Political Science
Course Code
Lilach Gilady

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Constructivism 15:44
Two Peas in a Pod
Realism and liberalism are the mainstream of IR
They generally accept the rules of the game; they do not challenge the
current structure; they generally view actors as rational
However, this is not the only way to study IR:
Critical theory
A different kind of critique
It challenges the way we think about the social sciences
Highlights the social structures in society and makes them the focus
Natural Sciences vs. Social Sciences
Social science deals with social beings
Material vs. Social
Money material: paper social, construct: money
Material facts are secondary to the social meaning attributed to them
Institutions: a set of customs, practices, relationships, or behavioural
patterns of importance in the life of a community or society; institutions are
the rules of the game, the norms that regulate behaviour; they generate
repetitive and predictable behaviour; they define the social constraints and
opportunities that actors face.
Examples: family; marriage; lecture; border; sovereignty; war
Alexander Wendt
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We should focus on the social meaning of material factors
These meaning are intersubjective – they are understood by group
members; they help regulate and produce behaviour patterns; in turn
they are reproduced by those behaviour patterns
Identities, norms and social institutions that the main unit of analysis
Anarchy Is what States Make Of It – Alexander Wendt
The implications of anarchy are not straightforward
State of Nature – ‘self help’ is an institution
Identity, interaction, signals, interpretation
Effects of predation  it only take ones actor to start attacking the
others and the social institution will start looking like the realist
suggested like it would look like
oWe need to at least entertain the idea that its not necessary
and that there is a way out
Critique: does it matter?
World ends up being like realism predicts anyways
Consequences/gains vs. appropriateness/acceptance
Constructivism: Summary
Constructivism can lead to a ‘realist’ or ‘liberal’ prediction
Does not have a built in theory of IR
Provides a way to study IR
What processes matter?
The social world is constantly changing and is constantly being reproduced.
However – identities and norms are relatively stable; slow change.
It is better in analyzing patterns of behaviour rather than specific events
Mainly looking at the explanation of norms, processes of change, processes
of social construction
Provides a theory for the origin of preferences and interests
We cannot understand the world by observing if from the outside:
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