POL 3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Syrian Civil War, Serval, Bourgeoisie

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22 Feb 2018
School
Course
Foundations of Constructivism
Assumptions:
1. They say system is anarchic
Implications of anarchy depends on a lot of factors, depends on relationship between
states
2. Identities, (norms and ideas associated with them) are central in IR.
People in us, you meet you shake their hands/ bow in Asia
Identities of actors is very imp.
E.g. Titanic life boards
o realists: stronger will go board
o Constructivism prediction: help the weaker: women, children, elders.
Identities can be convergent or divergent - relation between states influences IR
o E.g. Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia) in Syrian civil war.
o Sided with ones they identify with, ended on opposite sites because they sided
with whatever identities they support
3. Meaning are socially constructed-->everything is subjective
E.g., concept of a murderer: so are they all murders, social norms are important, this is
wrong and right
o But what if you a soldier,
o Or in defense
o What if you are the executioner
4. Identities are also socially constructed
Through cooperative behavior and learning, engage in interactions with friends,
Interacting allows us to lean who we are, also who we are in relation to other,
o Allow us to see similarities and differences, which is reinforced by interactions
Discourse (how we talk about ourselves) influences construction of identities
o E.g. US and Iran post 9/11: Iran comes aid to US, great friend, effect of "axis of
evil", there are evil states, even Iran, this changed their relations, so Iran stopped
helping, end even working against US.
o Imp. How we frame things, how we talk about other states
5. States interests are socially constructed (not materially based), different from liberal
and realists
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Interests come from your social setting
Germany and japan, post WW II, very big military powers, now they are very anti-
militants. Now they do not identify with it, came from experiences and interactions
post WW II, understand social setting that lead to this change
Implications:
1. Normative structures are what matter (rather than material ones)
Distribution of identities, defines interactions in the international system [as opposed
to power (realists or interdependence (liberals)]
2. Power comes from influence of legitimacy of ideas and identities
Soft power, leading by example, not coercing anybody
o US is leading by example, by being democratic, states are changing because of
that
o EU leader in environmental issues
3. Change in the International System come from
Diffusion of ideas, how everything works, those ideas can spread to other states
o Like spread of democracy
o Capitalism
Internalize norms
o Norm of legitimacy, (US and Iraq, 2003, made all kinds of statements, went the
UN, to maintain the national legitimacy, show that they have many supporters,
but UN refused.
Socialization: spread of identities through diffusion of ideas
o Post-communist countries in EU, but now they are European
o Institutions as social settings, where interactions take place, interests are being
fulfilled
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