Constructivesm Reading 1.1 - Anarchy is what states make of...

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Anarchy is what states make of it: the social construction of power politics Alexander Wendt The debate between realists and liberals has reemerged as an axis of contention in international relations theory.' Revolving in the past around competing theories of human nature, the debate is more concerned today with the extent to which state action is influenced by "structure" (anarchy and the distribution of power) versus "process" (interaction and learning) and institutions. Does the absence of centralized political authority force states to play competitive power politics? Can international regimes overcome this logic, and under what conditions? What in anarchy is given and immutable, and what is amenable to change? The debate between "neorealists" and "neoliberals" has been based on a shared commitment to "rationali~m."~ Like all social theories, rational choice directs us to ask some questions and not others, treating the identities and interests of agents as exogenously given and focusing on how the behavior of This article was negotiated with many individuals. If my records are complete (and apologies if they are not), thanks are due particularly to John Aldrich, Mike Barnett, Lea Brilmayer, David Campbell, Jim Caporaso, Simon Dalby, David Dessler, Bud Duvall, Jean Elshtain, Karyn Ertel, Lloyd Etheridge, Ernst Haas, Martin Hollis, Naeem Inayatullah, Stewart Johnson, Frank Klink, Steve Krasner, Friedrich Kratochwil, David Lumsdaine, M. J. Peterson, Spike Peterson, Thomas Risse-Kappen, John Ruggie, Bruce Russett, Jim Scott, Rogers Smith, David Sylvan, Jan Thomson, Mark Warren, and Jutta Weldes. The article also benefited from presentations and seminars at the American University, the University of Chicago, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Syracuse University, the University of Washington at Seattle, the University of California at LQS Angeles, and Yale University. 1. See, for example, Joseph Grieco, "Anarchy and the Limits of Cooperation: A Realist Critique of the Newest Liberal Institutionalism," International Organization 42 (Summer 1988), pp. 485-507; Joseph Nye, "Neorealism and Neoliberalism," World Politics 40 (January 1988), pp. 235-51; Robert Keohane, "Neoliberal Institutionalism: A Perspective on World Politics," in his collection of essays entitled International Institutions and State Power (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1989), pp. 1-20; John Mearsheimer, "Back to the Future: Instability in Europe After the Cold War," International Security 13 (Summer 1990), pp. 5-56, along with subsequent published correspondence regarding Mearsheimer's article; and Emerson Niou and Peter Ordeshook, "Realism Versus Neoliberalism: A Formulation," American Journal ofPolitical Science 35 (May 1991), pp. 481-511. 2. See Robert Keohane, "International Institutions: Two Approaches," International Studies Quarterly 32 (December 1988), pp. 379-96.
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