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Constructivist. Checkel.docx

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Tufts University
Political Science
Kelly Greenhill

The Constructivist Turn in International Relations Theory—Jeffrey T. Checkel • constructivism has succeeded in broadening the theoretical contours of IR o identity, interest o sociological approach • constructivism lacks a theory of agency o overemphasizes the role of social structure and norms at the expense of the agents who help create and change them • constructivism remains a method more than anything else • constructivism not concerned with levels of analysis, but more with the underlying conceptions of how social and political world works—not a theory but an approach to social inquiry based on 2 assumptions: o the environment in which units take action is social as well as material o setting can provide units with understandings of their interests (it can constitute them)  states interests emerge from and are endogenous to interaction with structures • norms constitute units and provide them with understandings of their interests • norms and social structures at most constrain the choices and behavior of self-interested states, which operate according to a logic of consequences (means-ends calculations) • constructivists occupy a middle ground between rational choice theorists and postmodern scholars • norms are collective understandings that make behavioral c
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