Presentation on theme: "POSC 2200 – Theoretical Approaches"— Presentation transcript:
1 POSC 2200 – Theoretical Approaches Russell Alan WilliamsDepartment of Political Science
2 Unit Two: Theoretical Approaches “Alternative Approaches - Constructivism, Poststructuralism and Feminism:”Required Reading:Globalization of World Politics, Chapters 10, 11, 12 and 17.Alexander Wendt, “Anarchy is what states make of it: The social construction of power politics,” International Organization, Vol. 46(2), (Spring 1992), Pp (Available as an excerpt available from the instructor.)Outline:IntroductionConstructivismPoststructuralismFeminismConclusionsFor Next Time
3 1) Introduction: Remaining “theories” are: 1) Newer – “work in progress” . . .2) Mainly focused on the role of “ideas” in international politicsRe-opens old debates in IR:Are there rules or values that affect behavior separate from “national interests”?Critics: These approaches = return to “idealism” =Similar insistence that we should pursue a moral or ethical IRIntroduces concerns omitted/silenced by other theories:Role of culture and role of genderHowever, unclear status as “theories”More critical scholars reject variables and hypothesis
4 Key Thinkers:Liberal or mainstream constructivism:M. FinnemoreA. WendtCritical poststructuralism:R. B. J. WalkerFeminism:C. Enloe
5 2) Constructivism:Key claim: Ideas or “norms” structure international politics“Norms” are produced by state interaction over time and non-state actors committed to certain ideasE.g. the global anti slavery movement (19th century)Key problem: Both “realism” and modern liberalism (E.g. “Neoliberal institutionalism”) are committed to “materialism”= Actors have fixed and predictable interests based on what is available in the material worldE.g. All states and individuals want the same things regardless of culture, values or even norms
6 Constructivists argue that values define those interests – based on what people believe Similar challenge to study of domestic politics – we need to know what actors believeE.g. Survey people about their beliefs?Requires more attention to cultural discourses and ideological commitments of elitesE.g. Examine cultural attitudes in media and art
7 2) Focus on “Norms” and “Diffusion”/“Institutionalization” Types:1) “Epistemic Communities”: Expert groups dealing with complex and technical problems that shape how states “see” certain problems.“National interest” cannot exist outside this adviceE.g. Climate Change2) Focus on “Norms” and “Diffusion”/“Institutionalization”“Norms” = inter-subjective values about what is “normal” and not normalE.g. “Sovereignty”Treated as a “fact” by other approaches – exists when states have “power”But really based on “recognition” by other states (?) and has only existed since the ideas were “created” by the “Peace of Westphalia”Has spread (“diffused”) throughout world and is now taken for granted (“Institutionalized”) - there wouldn’t be 192 states in world without this norm
8 “Logic of Consequences” = Norms about IR shape how decision makers calculate costs and benefits of action“Logic of Appropriateness” = States have social “identities” which make them want to act appropriate to that identityUnless you are a “rogue state” you will want your actions to appear justified and legitimateExample: Intervention in another state in violation of “sovereignty” must be justified by reference to some other normE.g. Afghanistan (2001) vs. Iraq (2003)
9 3) Post-structuralism: Similar to “Constructivism” in focus on ideas, but more criticalConstructivism remains committed to social science – shame on them(!)Post-structuralism rejects “foundationalist” “ontology”=No outside world of independently knowable facts – we “create/construct” that world through our beliefsIR is seen as a “discourse” = the creation of ideas that order the world into categories independent of any foundational realityIR “discourse” = “Power”Scholarship is about creating meanings that privilege some concerns and suppress others
10 E.g. R.B.J. Walker on “sovereignty” . . . . = Not just a “norm”!“Sovereignty” constructs the political universe separating politics and values (inside sovereign states) from international relations.Has big political implications for normative political philosophy = ethical “duties” end at borders!E.g. Killing of civilians during warCreates “identities” that divide people; and are in some way, “risky”, because they are not based on some separate realityReal problem with IR is social science, which masks our actions in pseudo scientific validity
11 However, both “Constructivism” & “Poststructuralism” share a fundamental rejection of realism =Distribution of power, “balance of power” etc. understood in material terms means nothing outside of “norms”, values, or “discourse”“Power” is relational – it only means something in a cultural contextE.g. Some states do not see each other’s power as threateningE.g. Canada and the United StatesHistory, and culture “frame” who is a friend and who is a foe . . .
12 Example: Alexander Wendt “Aliens and the security dilemma” “Security Dilemma”: Power is relative – anything that makes one state secure is inherently threatening to other statesClosely related to “neorealism” and “offensive realism” – no role for interpretationWendt: Imagine aliens arrive on earth . . .“Neorealism” = Attack them, before it is too late!“Constructivism” = We don’t know whether we should see them as threatening or notIt will depend on how our interactions unfoldIt may also depend on our/their culture (?)Poststructuralism: How do we construct “aliens”?
13 4) Feminism:Not really “new”, but its influence is growing in international politics“Feminism”: A broader social program aimed at understanding women’s position and addressing inequality and oppressionInternational politics is both based on, and contributes to “Gender Relations”=how “masculinity” and “femininity” are constructed is part of the theory and practices of international politicsConcerns have evolved:Liberal feminism Poststructural feminism
14 “Gender relations” in practice: “Patriarchy” creates separate gender roles in which women are often in a subservient positionE.g. “breadwinner” mythE.g. The “Double Burden”Contributes to a global “Gendered Division of Labour” in which women do not receive the same benefits and opportunities as menPoststructural feminists also emphasize the broader commodification of women in global capitalism
15 “Gender relations” in the study of international politics: Female scholarship has been marginalizedIR has been seen as “non-gendered”, though many of its ideas seem to sneak in gender constructions (?)E.g. Hobbes’ state of natureE.g. Security language is sexualizedE.g. The “Protection Myth” and the construction of international securityDoes IR glorify men’s role in conflict and make women passive victims of insecurity?
16 The “Melian Dialogue” – Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War: “Constructivism”: Athens acted “inappropriately” - outside of norms =Rogue state“Poststructuralism”: Thucydides is just an ancient George Lucas - what lessons can we learn from his “story” outside of the messages he was trying to convince us of? =Danger of basing today’s policy on “tall tales”“Feminism”: Ah we are basing our ideas about IR on fairytales about men with spears Really? =This is exactly how IR gets “gendered” – we should talk about the world we live in
17 5) Conclusions: Key Actors/Units of Analysis: A) Individuals B) CulturesPotentially dangerous implications???C) States – states are agentsMay follow norms, but may not . . .
18 View of the state: Agent influenced by identities/values View of individual: Not rational - at least not in ways other theories assumeIndividuals socialized into pre-existing world viewsCan these views be changed for the better?View of the state: Agent influenced by identities/valuesLess important as an actor then “Realism”, but still importantView of international system:Distribution of power and material capabilities less importantNorms provide considerable structureChange is entirely possible and should be soughtAnarchy bad?Soverignty bad?
19 5) Strengths & Weakness of Newer Approaches: There are probably norms in IR . . .Interpretation, based on values, matters . . .
20 Weaknesses:Although it argues for a normative IR, it is possible that critical ideas undermine thisCultural relativism – there is no universal standard of right or wrong
21 “Nationalism and States in the International System” 6) For Next Time . . .Unit Three: Nationalism, Nations States and Foreign Policy“Nationalism and States in the International System”Required Reading:Globalization of World Politics, Chapter 25.Strobe Talbott, “Self-Determination in an Interdependent World,” Foreign Policy, No. 118 (Spring, 2000), pp (Available from the instructor.)