PSC 1003; Lecture 8
PSC 1003; Lecture 8 PSC 1003
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Eleanor Parry on Friday February 12, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSC 1003 at George Washington University taught by Farrell, H in Fall 2015. Since its upload, it has received 24 views. For similar materials see Introduction to International Politics in Political Science at George Washington University.
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Date Created: 02/12/16
Constructivism Other Schools and Constructivism • Neo-realism - emphasizes the importance of structure and power to international relations. • Liberalism - emphasizes the role of domestic and international institutions. • Constructivism - emphasizes the role of norms and ideas. • Takes as a problem what i taken for granted by other approaches. Basic Constructivist Claims 1. Ideas and norms are "social facts'. 2. Ideas and norms are often more important to explaining outcomes than power and interests. 3. Idea and norms can change. Ideas, Norms, and Social Facts • Ideas - basis for world views and understanding of politics. • Norms - rules that have a feeling of 'oughtness.' • Social Facts - facts that are not the result of physical laws or personal preferences but communal beliefs. Ideas and Norms Trump Power • Constructivists believe that power and interests are embedded in ideas and norms. ◦ UK and US ◦ Nuclear Weapons • Ideas and Norms can change ◦ France and Germany ◦ State Debt "The Nuclear Taboo" • De-facto prohibition against using nuclear weapons. • Early on after WWII, decision makers did not see nuclear weapons as qualitatively different from conventional ones. • But they had to change views over time. • Eisenhower and others felt constrained from using nuclear weapons, and complained about the 'tabu.' Nuclear Norm as a Social Fact • Tannenwald - the 'don't use nukes' norm was ""real" because it was believed to be real by others." • Hard for US to get around it - even when this was strategically disadvantageous to the US. • And at certain point, the US stopped even trying. Different Normative Effects • Constraining - Prevents you from doing what you want to do. • Constitutive - Shapes how you think of yourself as an actor. • Permissive - Provides you with license to do things you otherwise might not have. Nuclear Norm Effects • Began as constraining (Eisenhower) • Then became constitutive (Kennedy) • Then finally became permissive in First Gulf War. Constructivism - Strengths • Points to key role of norms • Identifies important sources of change. • Pints to how conflicts can be driven by ideas as well as interests. ◦ Cold War ◦ ISIS • Implies persuasion may be as important as force. Issue 2 - Security perceptions • Constructivists look at social processes through which perceptions are built • Strong contrast with realism. • China case • Iran case ◦ Contrast with realism and liberalism. Perceptions and Constructivism • Standard realist story - perceptions are important - but they are fixed. • Constructivist story - perceptions are important - but they can shift. • Potentially important to security. ◦ China ◦ Iran Johnston on Perceptions • Argues that US ideas about Chinese assertiveness are factually incorrect. ◦ China has not necessarily become more assertive over time. ◦ Huge selection bias (key concept). ◦ Policies are often driven by internal debates and disputes. ◦ However, myth of Chinese assertiveness is strong. Self Reinforcing Problem • Johnston argues that ideas shape US policy towards China. • Might even create a self-fulfilling reality (constructivists call performativity). • IF US keeps treating China as assertive, perhaps it will become more so. Iran, nuclear weapons and Isreal • Iran has tried to reset Iran's diplomatic relations with US and other western countries. ◦ Negotiated deal over nuclear weapons. ◦ Trying to move away from reputation for anti-Semitism. ◦ In short - engaged in efforts to persuade. Realist Analysis • Most of the language and efforts to persuade are irrelevant to real US interests. ◦ Either Iran has hostile or compatible interests, given its geostrategic needs. • Irrelevant whether Iran treats its own people well, or has anti-Semitic leaders. ◦ Will be guided by national interests. Liberal Analysis • Would see Iranian efforts as significant, if they suggest real changes in Iranian state. ◦ Moves towards greater democracy, respect for rule of law and institutions. • Might see Iranian efforts to move away from anti-Semitism as a 'credible commitment' (Schelling). • Or might alternatively see dealing with Iran as support for terrorism. Constructivist Analysis • Would argue that both Iran and the US can transform their relationship by redefining themselves and their interests. ◦ Basically optimistic about prospects for reshaping their identity. ◦ Runs against an alternative argument made my politicians, that identities are sticky. ◦ See an opportunity for profound transformation. Constructivism • Different focus to realists and liberals in specific explanations. • International institutions - shaped by norms and shaping them. • Perceptions - the product of social processes, which may often be mistaken. • Highlights questions that are invisible to realists and liberals. Intro to International Relations - Social Constructivism Rise of Constructivism in IR • Became popular after cold war Constructivism in Social Theory • Stresses ideational view over material view • Ideas are mental constructs held by individuals, set of distinctive beliefs, principles and attitudes that provide broad orientations for behavior and policy • Empirical approach 1. Ideologies A. Systemic set of doctrines and beliefs that reflect the social needs and aspirations of a group. 2. Normative Beliefs A. Beliefs about what is right and wrong. 3. Causal Beliefs A. Means-Ends Relationships. 4. Policy Prescriptions A. Specific programmatic ideas that facilitate policymaking. Constructivist Theories of International Relations • Systemic Constructivists ◦ Wendt's rejection of realism ‣ Collective meaning that constitute the structures which organize our actions. ‣ Material power and state interest are fundamentally formed by ideas and social interaction. ‣ Focuses on interaction between states in international system. ◦ Finnemore ‣ State behavior is defined by interest and identity. ‣ Defined by international forces embedded into society. ‣ Norms set by international organizations. ‣ International organization shape policy. ‣ Three Case Studies: • Adoption of Science policy bureaucracies. • States acceptance of rule governed norms of warfare. • States accepting limits to economic sovereignty. ◦ Stress importance of international environment shaping state identities • Domestic Constructivists ◦ Risse ‣ Regime type, presence of civil war, and human rights organizations factor into international cooperation. ◦ Katzenstein ‣ Culture, norms, and identity matter affect national security policies. ◦ Hopf ‣ No systemic theory of world politics bc no predominant systems only subsystems • All emphasize importance of culture and identity Critiques of Constructivism • Skeptical of importance of norms • International system forces states to behave egoistical limiting friendship. • Problems of uncertainty and deception • Little analysis of change in international relations and ideas The Nuclear Taboo • Associated with widespread popular revulsion against nuclear weapons and widely held inhibitions of their use. • Disarmament Politics in international organizations and agreements • Normative presumption against nuclear use Empirical Anomalies: 1. Non-use of nuclear weapons when there is no fear of nuclear retaliation. 2. Nuclear weapons have not deterred non nuclear states from attacking nuclear states. 3. Security of non nuclear states have not been rendered perilous. Three Normative Effects: 1. Regulative effect of injunctions against using nuclear weapons. 2. Constitutive A. Creates boundaries with implications for both behavior and identity B. Leads to civilized states whom regulate warfare 3. Permissive A. Legitimate other forms of behavior Alternative Explanations: • Fear of Nuclear retaliation • Public opinion constraints • Lack of organizational readiness • Long term consequences Uses and Non-uses 1. Hiroshima and Nagasaki 2. The Korean War: The emerging taboo A. Truman & Eisenhower 3. The Vietnam War: A hard test for the taboo 4. The 1991 Gulf War: The taboo in the Post-Cold War world Norms and Cause Mechanisms • Domestic public opinion • World opinion • Personal conviction informed by beliefs about American Values and behavior deemed civilized. • Norms work through 3 pathways ◦ Force ◦ Self interest ◦ Legitimacy
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