International Relations Theories Question Journal

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International Relations Theories Question Set

Discuss the idea that international relations is a social construction.

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The various conceptual frameworks postulated by international relations theorists have always been inspired, and eventually tested, by the regular periods of social transition which occur before and after international conflicts. The faith placed by Idealists in their utopian notion of collective security was shattered by Hitler's unopposed domination of Europe after the conclusion of World War I, and the systematic cessation of hostilities in World War II gave rise to the scientific school of Realism (Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 178). The eventual evolution of neo-liberal and neo-classical thought provided diametrically opposed worldviews that were nonetheless predicated on the same fundamental paradigm: international relations are governed by an objective reality based on the identities and interests of states (Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 178). When the Cold War, and its continual specter of mutually assured destruction via nuclear warfare, ended in the late 1980's, this significant step in normalizing geopolitical relations was not secured by an invasion force but rather through the paired program of economic and social reforms known as perestroika and glasnost respectively. International relations scholars have observed that "the importance of Gorbachev's 'New Thinking' in bringing an end to the cold war, the increasing importance of norms in humanitarian intervention, and the spread of liberal democratic values raised critical questions about the exclusive emphasis of realist theory on material interest and power" (Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 179).

Journal on International Relations Theories Question Set Discuss the Assignment

The resulting theory of Constructivism holds that international relations represent a social construction rather than a predetermined reality, and "in response to the over-determination of 'structure' in neorealist and neoliberal theory, constructivists introduced the possibility of agency ... (and) that international relations is a social construct rather than an existing independently of human meaning and action" (Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 180). Each of the major geopolitical transitions described in the preceding paragraph was the result of a society collectively embracing arbitrary social constructs, from the uniquely hostile process of American isolationism to the fanatical anti-Semitic fervor of fascist Germany. These entirely counterproductive exercises in statecraft had deleterious effects on both of these nations during episodes of intense international conflict, demonstrating that the logic of consequences advocated by rationalism were not applicable when a particular confluence of social contexts had been constructed (Dunne, Kurki, and Smith 181). Instead, according to the constructivist theory of international relations, "what is rational is a function of legitimacy, defined by shared values and… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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