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Constructionism Theoretical Critique Essay

1465 words - 6 pages

In International Relations theory there are many different theoretical schools of thought such as realism, liberalism, marxism, constructivism, world systems theory, and post modernism. Constructivism is a theory of international relations that emerged in the late 20th century as a response to the dominant schools of thought at the time, realism and liberalism. It states that international politics is driven by the social and institutional constructs of history rather than a base assumption of human nature. This seems to be the most relevant theory to international relations because of its depth. Constructivism is not hamstringed by fundamental assumptions but it functions to take a more open-minded look at the way our systems change and grow.

The most vital component of constructivism is the idea of international norms that change over the course of history. Norms shape choices that do not necessarily adhere to the best interests of the state but must be adhered to continue to function in a globalized world. When a state violates an international norm to further its own interest, as realism would predict, other states and international institutions are forced to act against the perpetrator to uphold said norm. An example of this would be the current situation in Eastern Ukraine. This area has traditionally been vital to Russian interests, both domestically and in foreign policy, as well as possessing a large ethnically Russian diaspora. Russia, who is a prime example of a state following realist foreign policy, has exercised it power as a regional hegemon through the use of coercive economic and military action. While realism states that it is in Russian interests to display its power and expand its sovereign territory as well as it sphere of influence over its key energy market in addition to vital ports and military bases it goes against the widely accepted norm to respect the sovereign territory of another state. This has caused massive backlash from the international community, specifically the United States and the European Union. While Russia does gain strategic markets and holdings, the economic sanctions placed against them could outweigh the benefits to say nothing of the strain on key diplomatic relations and good will of other global powers. For example the situation destroyed the glory Russia built up from its hosting of the 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi which cost the Russian government an estimated 60 to 65 billion USD as well as Russia’s expulsion from the prestigious G8 (Russia’s Losing Game Over Gays, Human Rights). According to Alexander Wendt, “It is the human nature or domestic politics of predator states, however, that provide the initial impetus or ‘efficient’ cause of conflict which forces other states to respond in kind” (“Anarchy Is What States Make Of It” page 395). In this case Russia would be the predator state whose realist politics provoked an outcry from western nations.
States generally conform to these norms...

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