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Transcript of Constructivism
By Alexander Wendt
How IR theories explain the notion of
copy and paste as needed and take advantage of an infinite canvas!
state behavior in international politics
Definitions of structure
A. Wendt theory
Constructivist argues that identities and interests in international politics are not stable.
States identities changes as well as interests -
what is important for them
Constructivism produce the identity of the states
as decision makers
The success of constructivism depends on important move
What do (neo)realists and neoliberals agree and disagree about?
Anarchy is what the states make of it:
social construction of power politics
In 1992, Alexander A. Wendt shook up the world of International Relations Theory
by publishing an article titled 'Anarchy is what States make of it: the social construction of power politics'.
A. Wendt argues that anarchy can be a structural fact about the world that states inhabit, but that it is up to politicians (and IR scholars) to decide how to deal with that anarchy.
Since then, Wendt’s social constructivist approach to International Relations has gained a lot of interest and one
cannot talk about IR Theory without mentioning his work
Alexander Wendt takes his point of departure the classical dispute
between realists and idealists update as
The typical aspects of IR are historically and socially constructed by human nature and world politics
Constructivism believes that an identity is made by social interactions which
How identities and interest are constructed - how they
are made or produced?
It means that states decide what anarchy will be like:
conflictual or cooperative
Wendt differentiates between three schools of thought in IR:
, see structure (anarchy and power distribution) as the primary determinant of state behavior, believe in conflictual behaviour of state
, see process (interaction and learning) as the primary determinant of state behavior, states might be cooperative
: . share a cognitive, intersubjective conception of process in which identities and interests are endogenous to interaction;
neoliberals and neorealists, can be referred to as rationalists, treat
identities as exogenously given.
1. States are dominant actors in IP
2.security is defined in
self- interested term
3. Rationalism explains theoretical
disposition thought about
international states interactions
1. explaining state interactions in international anarchy
The problem for Wendt is rationalism - they are open in
changing behavior, but not in changing state identity and
"(Neo)realists think of self-interest in terms
Ex. the state driven out of the
system if don’t conform to it.
Waltz argues that international anarchy is the permissive
cause of war, self- help defines the behavior of states in
a system of structural anarchy.
Wendt adds "only simple learning and behavioral
adaptation is possible.
"States cannot learn overcome the limits of
international anarchy. The reason to survive
make states look out for themselves." - Waltz
Wendt argues that these limits of thinking about
changes in state learning are found in
"weak liberal arguments
Other - "strong liberals" want to move from
simple learning to complex.
No logic to anarchy
Anarchy is an effect of practice
“Anarchy is what states make of it”
Logic of anarchy is
and leads to conflict
Logic of anarchy is a
process that can
lead to cooperation
Constructivism bridge between (neo)realism and neoliberals
Wendt makes his argument that there is no logic of anarchy and that self -help is an instrument that can be changed. He does by challenging
1. International anarchy
2. The second is “the intersubjectively constituted
structure of identities and interests in the system
To go from structure to action, we need to add a fourth [part to Waltz’s definition of structure]: the intersubjectively constituted structure of identities and interests in
Identities - understandings and
expectations about self
Institutions - a relatively stable set or
“structure” of identities and interests
Self - help is an institution
What effects state security
Waltz describe political structure of three dimensions:
1. ordering principles ( anarchy)
2.principles of differentiation
3. distribution of capabilities
These factors effects states security interests and the
character under anarchy
competitive - Hobbesian war of all against all.
Individualistic- self - regarding about security -
states are worrying about absolute gains rather
all see the responsibility to cooperate
How self- regarding ideas about security might develop?
2 actors ego and alter
meeting for the first time
Both want to survive
Wendt takes as example with aliens by
would we assume that we were about to be attached
if we ever had a contact with members of alien civilization?
"I think no"- says Wendt
we would be careful
But we won't we treating
to them unless they were
first threatening to us
How to behave?
Read the alien social signals
and then decide
Wanting to survive do not guarantees that:
alter and ego behave conflictual forward one another
nor they will cooperate
"Anarchy is what alter and ego make of it"
Both preserve their own uniquest ways of being states
They do not want increase them power of security
What states do depends of what are their identities and interests
Identity formation of how the process of creating identities and interest might work
"Meet fire with fire"
The aggressive behavior forces other states
to engage in competitive power politics
it assumes that just one state is power - seeking
and that the others have to follow, the anarchy permits the one to exploit them.
constructivist approach is that identities, norms, and culture play important role in the world politics.
Identities and interests of states are not simply structurally determined, but are rather produced by:
It is process not structure which established the manner in which states interact.
Free space for your own critical conclusion
Thank You for listening!