IR Notes Lecture 7

IR Notes Lecture 7 - IR Notes Lecture 76 February 2007...

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IR Notes Lecture 7—6 February 2007 Constructivism: Ideas and Identities in International Relations I. Constructivism a) b) 4 basic tenets i) They believe that reality is socially constructed (1) Realism and liberalism focus on material factors and take them as given (power, economic interdependence—it is a given and can be measured in material ways) (2) Constructivists reject this: objects have no meaning other than what we attach to it like military forces, GDP—it is socially constructed by all of us (3) When we collectively give meaning to something, we say it has been mutually constituted (a) Iranian nuclear weapons have been socially constructed in a way different than British nuclear weapons, although they are materially the same way (Alex Webb) (4) Alex Webb : anarchy is what states make of it—no inherent meaning to anarchy, but it and its implications are socially constructed (5) Constructivists questions how we give meaning to all the basic tenets of IR, emphasize the way that the meaning of each of these things can be defined and redefined by each of these actors (6) Thus anarchy is not just out there, permanent and unchanging, of IR, but instead can be redefined by the actors in the int’l system (7) There’s no reason why anarchy could not be socially constructed differently (8) The whole world of IR is all artificially constructed—the underpinnings of the self-help world in realism and liberalism are changeable ideas, not naturally facts, laws of nature, or unchanging phenomena c) Role of ideas: norms and identity in IPOL i) If reality is socially constructed, it follows the ideas we have about the world are important as it is through these ideas that the world is given meaning ii) What states value and how they behave is driven by what they feel is appropriate and what accords with accepted ideas and what is consistent with what it thinks its role is iii) Norms (1) System-wide ideas about appropriate, legitimate behavior (2) In contrast to liberalism and realism who attribute leaders’ behavior to the “logic of consequences,”, constructivism replaces this with the “logic of appropriateness” as norms help us socially construct the world around us as to what constitutes appropriate behavior (a) Nuclear weapons taboo is based on a norm that they are not an appropriate weapon to use in warfare even though it may be in a state’s material interests (3) Legitimacy: acting in accordance with int’l norms: has great benefits for states
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(a) Violating those norms can have great costs, including an absence of legitimacy iv) Identities (1) An idea about how we construct ourselves and view ourselves within different communities (2) This suggest roles and appropriate behavior for ourselves
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IR Notes Lecture 7 - IR Notes Lecture 76 February 2007...

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