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IR 3.3.docx

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Political Science
Kelly Greenhill

IR 3.3 Constructivism, Culture, and Identity • constructivism o focus is on human awareness or consciousness and its place in IR o materialist focus is not efficient—based more on shared ideals • actors in IR o agree with liberals about significance of non-state actors in IR o international institutions are all important o interests and identities of actors are changeable o how actors perceive themselves and the goals that they seek depends upon the context in which those actors operate • reject the strictly materialist focus of realism and liberalism; don’t deny importance of material focus—social material o the social and political world is not an object that exists outside of human consciousness o exists only as inter-subjective • hypothesized relationship between actors and the structure in which they operate o realism: nature of international system shapes’behavior o liberalism: actors’behavior shapes the nature of the international system o constructivism: both actors and the system are mutually constituted  actors influence the system, system influences the actors, etc. • overarching constructivist assumption: individuals construct their own understanding of the world • key tenets of constructivism: o the structures of human association are determined primarily—but not exclusively—by shared ideas (and their social context) rather than material forces  social context- notions of what is right and wrong, feasible or infeasible, possible, or impossible, are all part of an actor’s social context • ideas shape what actors want and how actors behave • actors do not simply maximize relative power, security, or wealth • norms, ideas, and identities play important role in shaping self- perceptions, interests and the appropriate range of strategies • the context of world politics is malleable o ideas and meanings that shape actors’behavior change over time, as the actors themselves change because it is the very behavior and interactions of the actors that create this ideational context o “anarchy is what states make of it” • ex: state sovereignty o principle of sovereignty enshrined in international law o notions of sovereignty determine  who the relative actors are • territorial states that claim a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within their borders  what those actors want • preservation as independent political entities • territorial integrity and freedom from foreign interference  how actors ought to behave toward one another • create customs offices, send and receive diplomats, set immigration policies, etc. o states’identities/interests are not structurally determined, but rather are produced by interactions, institutions, norms, and cultures  UK has more nuclear weapons that North Korea (250 vs. 10), but North Korea is considered the threat  US voted most threatening country to world peace (survey conducted by WIN and Gallup over 68 countries) (evenAmericans viewed our country as a threat to world peace) (some argue that since we haven’t seen major balancing against US, then we really aren’t seen as a threat) (US intentions to “install democracy,”
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