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Political Science

Lecture 6 Social Constructivism 05302013Chapter 9 Social Constructivism Michael BarnettEmerged in the 1980s as a reaction to mainstream IR theory in the USEmphasizes how ideas define and can transform the organization of world politics shape identities and interests of states and determine what counts as legitimate actionArose to contrast the neoneo debate which had assumed that states have innate and fixed interests such as power and wealth and are constrained to further those interests because of material forces such as geography technology and the distribution of poweroCritics argued for the inclusion of social forces such as ideas knowledge norms and rules that influences state ideas and interestsMany constructivist ideas come from European social and political thought that run counter to American culture which emphasizes individualismCommon themes of constructivism are ideas define international structure which shapes identities interests and foreign policies of state how state and nonstate actors reproduce the structure and at times transform itThe neoneo debate can be criticized for its lack of consideration for the possibility that ideas and norms might define their interests1980s emerged a dominance of social theory how to conceptualize the structure and its organizing principles actors and rules that regulate their relations and the relationship between structure and actorsoThis challenged neorealisms and neoliberal institutionalisms individualism and materialism4 most important contributors to development of constructivism John Ruggie Richard Ashley Alexander Wendt Friedrich KratochwiloJohn Ruggie attacked the centrepoint of Waltzs conceptual architecture structure the movement from anarchy to hierarchy by stating that we should pay attention more to differentiationconsider the importance of sovereigntyoRichard Ashley criticized neorealism by stating that 1 it is so fixated on the state it cannot see a world populated by nonstate actors 2 states have fixed interests so cannot see how their interests are constructed and transformed by globalhistorical forces 3 it is so committed to individualism that it cannot see how societies shape individuals and how globalhistorical forces create identities interests and capacities of states 4 so committed to materialism it constructs an artificial view of society devoid of ideas beliefs and rules 5 treatment of basic concepts like sovereignty as if it was natural and
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