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Chapter

Constructivism by Ian Hurd NOTES.txt

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POLI 244
Professor
Fernando Nunez- Mietz

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Constructivism by Ian Hurd NOTES Outline: Constructivist theory rejects the basic assumption of neo-realist theory that the state of anarchy (lack of a higher authority or government) is a structural condition inherent in the system of states. Rather, it argues, in Alexander Wendt's words, that 'Anarchy is what states make of it'. That is, anarchy is a condition of the system of states because states in some sense 'choose' to make it so. Anarchy is the result of a process that constructs the rules or norms that govern the interaction of states. The condition of the system of states today as self-helpers in the midst of anarchy is a result of the process by which states and the system of states was constructed. It is not an inherent fact of state-to-state relations. Thus, constructivist theory holds that it is possible to change the anarchic nature of the system of states. Background: Constructivist theory emerged in the mid-1990s as a serious challenge to the dominant realist and liberal theoretical paradigms. The theory was not popularized until Wendt 1992 (a direct challenge to neorealism) and Katzenstein 1996 (cited under Identity) made it a staple of international relations (IR) syllabi around the world. The theory�s relatively recent arrival on the scene makes a constructivist canon somewhat harder to identify and makes the inclusion or exclusion of particular sources in this bibliography a potentially much greater source of contention than in the articles on realism and liberalism. Constructivist theory emphasizes the meanings that are assigned to material objects, rather than the mere existence of the objects themselves. For example, a nuclear weapon in the United Kingdom and a nuclear weapon in North Korea may be materially identical (though, so far, they are not) but they possess radically different meanings for the United States. The belief that reality is socially constructed leads constructivists to place a greater role on norm development, identity, and ideational power than the other major theoretical paradigms. Indeed, norms, identity, and ideas are key factors in constructivist theory. The relationship between critical IR theory or feminist IR theory and constructivist IR theory are contested. Some critical and feminist theorists could mount an argument that each deserves its own article. However, for better or worse, the mainstream of the field situates both within a constructivist paradigm, as they share certain key features that are common to constructivism and are distinct from realism and liberalism. In addition, it could be argued that the �English School� belongs in this section. However, the placement of the English School in a solely realist, liberal, or constru
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