IntroIn recent years International Politics has been flooded withmany different theories which attempt to explain how and why the interractionsbetween to bodys occur. But one relatively new theory which has stood outagainst the rest is social constructionism.
Developed as result of the downturnof realism after the cold war social constructivism stands out as its theoriesare vastly different from those who came before. By the end of this essay I willhave explored the rise of of social constructivism fromthe 1980’s upuntill the present day.Before the emergence of social constructivism…..The rise of social constructivism began in the 1980’ssparked by the end of the cold war. When the Berlin wall fell down in 1989 and,what was formally known as the Soviet union collapsed it changed the world bothphysically and theoretically in terms of international relations (). During thecold war the main theory present to explaining International relations was neorealismwhich argued that “there was a clear pattern of power balancing between twoblocs, led by the United States and the Soviet Union respectively” but howeverwith the dismantled soviet union and the cold war at an end the situation completelychanged.
In terms of neorealist, this change lead to their theory having itsvalidity questioned as its had failed to consider what would occur in thefututure after the end of the cold war in terms of the future balance of power.Neorealist believe in two counteracting forces which balancepower – the USA and the soviet union. But with the soviet union no longer in existence,neorealist believed that a new power would rise up to be the opposing forceagainst the USA but this did not occur. Whilst Waltz arugues that it couldeventally happen ‘tomorrow'(2002)and othe neorealist such as Christopher Layne belivingthat it could take over fifty years before Japan and Germany are able to balance agaistthe US (1993)but to this day no countryhas balanced against the US. Even thoughsome neorealist were still highly confident that their theory remainedhighly relevant, the end of the cold war lead to a reduction in the amount ofhegemony neorealism had over the theories of international relations. At thesame time, whilst the end of the cold war was a downturn for neorealist, it alsoprovided constructionist with a platform. Constructionism was introduced in to the relm ofinternational relations with Micholas Onuf who coined the term since then ithas come to the foreground as an alternative to theories such as realism and liberalismbecause as a theory constructionist has an issue with liberalist and realistthinking and also has siginificantly diffrtrnt beliefs to them.
Constructionistaruge that the downturn of neorealism is a result of their theory being toomaterialist and instead thr focous should be on thpughts and ideas which providesan better explanation about anarchary and the balance of power. Unlike realist or liberalist, ” constructionist focus onideas of norms, the development of structure,the realatiinship between actorsand said structures, as well as how identity influences actions and behaviouramongst and between actors” which many has argued to be unscientific and It is argues that one of the most important aspect ofinternational realations is social and not material which neorealist advocate. Theyalso argue that social lreality is not an objective way of observing internationalaffairs.Constructivism as a social theory canbe broken down into different groups, whilst substantive internatonlanalrelations theory is a theory about some aspects of international relations,social theory concentraints on the socialworld,social action and the relationship that takes place between structuresant the actor.
Constructivism is made up of social theory and many differentsubstansive theories about international realations but for the conteex of thisessay the main focus will be on constructivism as a social theory. One of themain focuses of of social theory is its emphasize on the social construction oflife which included “international relations, consist of thought and ideas andnot essentially of material conditions or forces”The method used by Constructivies isan empericle approach which focuses on the ideas within IR theory which helpsdefine it. As a rule Construcrivist cannot follow mechanical positivist concenptionsof casulity because positivist do no focus on the intersubjective context of ansituation. This can be dispayed in this example “the well-known billiardball image of international is rejected by constructivists because it fails toreveal the thoughts, ideas, beliefs and so on of the actors involved ininternational conflicts”.
In this case positivist wouldhave accepted this example because they do not look toward the inner workingbehind a situation or person. In this case a Constructioist would want to lookinside a billard balls inorder to gage a deeper understanding of the conflict. Constructionist tend to reject theobjective truth as they believe thatgthere cannot be one objective truth that would apply across all situation but howeverconstructionist do make true clames which they have developed about a subjecttheat they are currently looking into hilst at the same time stating that theretruths are only there interpretations of what they believe to be truths in aworld so complex.
But however this is not consistant across all of constructivismas this is only the conventional construcrivist view which which representsscolars such as Alexander Wendt (1999), Peter Katzenstein (1996b),Christian Reus-Smit (1997), John Ruggie (1998), Emmanuel Adler and MichaelBarnett (1998), Ted Hopf (2002), and Martha Finnemore (2003).The other form of Constructionism iscritical construction which we now know as postmodernism and they argue that truth clames are notpossible because there is not situation where we can decide what is true andwhat is not and what we call truth is linked to a more dominant theory anout theworld which seporates truth and power into two different categories. But howevethe main focus of critical constructionism is the look at the relationshipbetween truth and power and tp criticise theorys that argue that there truthmeans truth for all