Constructivist Theories of IR
Wendt’s Four Elements of a Constructivist Theory of IR
- Resources matter, but are at best a first starting point.
- Wendt: North Korea’s possible nuclear arsenal is more threatening than existing and sizeable British or French arsenals)
- Why is the distribution of capabilities discounted toward Britain and France if, as realists argue, intentions can change?
- Shared understandings constitute relations
- Security dilemma v. security community
- Security community: relations among states in which use of force is inconceivable (e.g., relations between US-Canada-Mexico and within European Union).
- Social structures exist in the praxes of actors, not in the distribution of capabilities (material factors).
- Institutions are regularized praxes
- European Union’s and NATO’s persistence are regarded by realists as anomalies: states should engage in relative-gains seeking in absence of material threat (Soviet Union is gone; Russia is weak)
Mutual Constitution of Agents and Structure
- Agents (for Wendt, states) and social structures “mutually constitute” each other through their praxes.
- Anarchy is what states make of it.
- A mutual-help system can exist: collective security if states engage in such praxes
Norms as Causal Variables in IR