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Social Constructivism in international relations and the Gender Dimension

International Relations and Gender made simple

Term Paper (Advanced seminar) 2010 59 Pages

Politics - Political Theory and the History of Ideas Journal

Excerpt

Table of Contents

1. Abstract

2.Social Constructivism
2.1.Introduction
2.2. The four Major Debates and the Four Major Theoretical Traditions
2.2.1. The First Debate
2.2.1.1. The Liberal Theoretical Category
2.2.1.2. The Realist Theoretical Category and the Three Images
2.2.1.2.1. The First Image
2.2.1.2.2. The Second Image
2.2.1.2.3. The Third Image
2.3. The Second Major Debate
2.4. The Third International Debate
2.5. The Fourth Major Debate and Post Positivist Intervention

3. Social Constructivism
3.1. Inroad
3.2. Earliest Philosophical Roots
3.3. Evolution of Social Constructivism
3.3.1. Social Constructivism as a Social Theory
3.3.2. Social Constructivism as a Theory of International Relations

4. The Strengths and Weaknesses of Social Constructivism

5.Gender in International Relations
5.1.Gender in LitHUDWXUH
5.2. The feminist Theory
5.2. Feminist Constructivism
5.3. Liberal Feminism
5.4. Feminist Post structuralism -Deconstructivist Feminism
5.5. Critical Feminism
5.6. Womanism: Beyond Feminism -Stiwanism, Motherism, Gender Complementarites

6. Conclusion

7. Bibliography

Social Constructivism in International Relations Mega-Theory and the Gender Dimension.

Abstract.

The goal of this work is to study the Approach of Social Constructivism in International Relations and to anchor this examination to the emergent debate of Feminist Constructivism as an offshoot of Gender in International Relations. To market International Relations as a social construction is to underscore the importance of Interactions, discourse, change and sociality as opposed to Individuality, autarky, power, materiality , rationality and militarism. In this regard Social Constructivism ushers itself in, in the discipline of International Relations as a new alternative to the traditional theories that have hitherto monopolized the way political scientists have been viewing the inter - and intrastate events. Constructivism is the new approach to International Relations. It takes a middle course between realism and liberalism. Constructivism explores the role of ideas, images, symbols, norms, culture and discourse on social life. It stresses that ideational factors such as dialogue and exchange of ideas are more result-oriented in socio-political life than material factors. Constructivism is a social Theory that centers on social life and social change. Focusing on ,,social facts"(Searle 1995) like money, sovereignty and rights which have no material reality but are inter-subjectively made real by shared ideational forces among peoples, Constructivists followed the example of Foucauld who opined that discourse is the root of all successes in human and social relations. Encompassing a broad range of theories that tackle the questions of ontology(the science of being), Constructivism insists that actors are shaped by the social environment in which they found themselves. In this way it researches on how identities and interests are created. Just as we have earlier noted, it handles also epistemological enquiries such as the material versus the ideational debate. Distancing itself from Realism, Neo- Realism and other utilitarian and materialist theories, Constructivism is skeptical about most of their claims such as those bordering on historical and scientific accuracy. For no single observation and account is flawless. Constructivism argues that situations have to be approached and studied from different perspectives in order to grasp their full import, for it is not enough to describe events or situations of things; one needs to dissect the constituting parts of factors, things, Beings and situations with a view to knowing how and why they operate, behave in a given way. The constructivists' engagement to introduce the social into a discipline that has been unduly under socialized has earned Constructivism the appellation the jewel of International Relations. A school of the global feminist movement, borrowing from the example of the constructivists also developed the idea that Gender in International Relations should be seen as constructivist-oriented; hence the birth of Feminist Constructivism. The Third Debate or as some would have it, the Fourth Debate of the late 80s gave the Feminists the rare opportunity of also questioning the men-dominated positivist, materialistic and rationalistic theories. Encouraged by the Post positivist(which encompasses postmodernists, poststructuralists and conventional constructivists) critique of positivists' claim of engendering universal objective knowledge, Gender Scholars in International Relations sought as well to team up with post positivists' stand on ideational, sociological, interpretative and sociological methods of analyzing world politics; seeing this as a leeway to deconstruct sexism in International Relations. In spite of the above exploits of both Constructivism and Feminism in International Relations, there are very obvious shortcomings on either sides. These weaknesses shall also be critically examined with some case-studies.

2.Social Constructivism

2.1.Introduction.

Social Constructivism sees the whole discipline of International Relations as a social construction. It stresses the social dimensions of International relations. Social Constructivism posits the argumentation that academic discourse as opposed to political engagement is more fruitful in bringing about lasting and genuine change in global affairs. In the mid 1980s when the Cold War was at its worst stage engendering the gloomy prospects of a nuclear war between the capitalist and communist Blocs, as represented by the two super powers , the United States and the Soviet Union, some schools of thought within the International Relations discipline began to look beyond the traditional and dominant theoretical approaches of doing politics. This skepticism of the hitherto International Relations theories like the Realism and the Liberalism called to question their approaches and scientific methods which in the view of the critics of the Third Debate have negatively and unfortunately implicated in the unfolding prospects of national and international Belligerence. In short these theories were also seen as being incapable of holding in its grip the difficulties which arose with demise of the Cold War. Seeing these other International Relations theories as inefficient in view of the emergent global politics as a result of their materialistic, static, individualistic, natural-scientific and egocentric approaches, Constructivists came on stage with the under-mentioned alternatives. Constructivism sees itself as a social Theory that centers on social life and social change. Focusing on ,,social facts"(Searle 1995) like money, sovereignty and rights which have no material reality but are inter-subjectively made real by shared ideational forces among peoples, Constructivists followed the example of Foucauld(1858-1916) who opined that discourse is the root of all successes in human and social relations. Encompassing a broad range of theories that tackle the questions of ontology(the science of being), Constructivism insists that actors are shaped by the social environment in which they found themselves. In this way it researches on how identities and interests are created. Just as we have earlier noted, it handles also epistemological enquiries such as the material versus the ideational debate. Distancing itself from Realism, Neo- Realism and other utilitarian and materialist theories, Constructivism is skeptical about most of their claims such as those bordering on historical and scientific accuracy. For no single observation and account is flawless. Constructivism argues that situations have to be approached and studied from different perspectives in order to grasp their full import, for it is not enough to describe events or situations of things; one needs to dissect the constituting parts of factors ,things, Beings and situations with a view to knowing how and why they operate, behave in a given way. In this regard the GSI. Uni-münchen Grundkurs, Internationale Beziehungen (Feb.2006) recapitulates Social Constructivist agenda in the following way:

Der Sozial konstructivismus problematisiert Identität und Interessen. Diese werden nicht als von außen objektiv gegeben angesehen, sondern erlangen (erst) durch den Umwelt einen subjektiven Bedeutungsgehalt. Akteure und Strukturen determinieren auch dabei gegenseitig, die Rolle von Kultur, Iden und Nomen auf die Präferenzbildung der Akteure wird als Konstitutiv herausgestellt.

This Constructivists' engagement to introduce the social into a discipline that has been unduly under socialized has earned Constructivism the appellation the jewel of International Rel]ations. This is more so since International Relations is actually a field in political Science which in itself is a social science. Scientific objectivity and one-way traffic mathematical calculation as propagated by the realists does not adequately fit in here.

In the same vein feminists under the auspices of Feminist Constructivism and borrowing the ideas of Jacques Derrida's Deconstructivism (Deconstruction) took the lead that every text can be dissected and viewed from multifarious orientations. Feminists argue therefore that the existing documentation in International Relations have until most recently been men's affaire. Their goal therefore is to dismantle these International Relations masculine literature and re-interpret them using feminist and womanistic approaches. Hitherto the realist materialist and militaristic interpretation of Actors' quests and interests have resulted in Belligerence, Pugnacity and self-help. The feminists strive to deconstruct this anomaly and reconstruct it using womanistic and gender tools.

2. Social Constructivism.

2.2.The four Major Debates and the four major theoretical Traditions.

As we have already noted in the introductory part of this work, Social Constructivism was a child of the third debate of the middle of 1980s, which in some Constructivists' circles has been baptized the fourth debate. A priori to this debate, global socio-political events in International Relations have engendered two or three preceding debates as the case may be. These debates highlight the constructivist point about the importance and preference of the ideational roles and inter-subjective discourse coupled with the round-table back-up and behind ²the- scene intellectual maneuver of the epistemic communities and the Kitchen Cabinets in bringing about the much needed and endurable peace and harmony in the national and international Anarchies. Fierke in his contributory article on Constructivism( see Tim Dunne et al: International Relations Theories op.cit:

The main point ² and, I might add, a very constructivist point ² is that academic debates, no less than political, emerges in historically and culturally specific circumstances. This is evident in other debates that have shaped international Relations theory. The debate between realism and idealism was a reflection on the weaknesses of idealism after the First World War against the background of Hitler's expansion accross Europe(see Carr 1946). Attempts to solidify the scientific status of realist IR were led by European émigrés to the U.S.A, following the Second World War. The debate between the behaviourists and traditionalists pitted scholars in the USA, who wanted to make International Relations into a science, against the international society theorists of the English school(see Knorr and Rosenau 1969).The postpositivist debate in the late 1980s was a reaction against the dominant place of scientific method in the American context(see Lapid 1989;see chapter 11). The 'dialogue' over constructivism was a reaction to the third debate, or, as some prefer to call it, the fourth debate(see chapter 1), and an attempt to speak across the barricades it has constructed, while addressing problems raised by the end of the Cold War.

A proper comprehension of the development and dynamic evolution of the International Relations, preferably referred to as World Politics or International Studies is feasible when one explores the four major theoretical traditions that have formed the bedrock of this disciple. It is in this way that the researcher can rightly situate the exact location of Social Constructivism within the discipline. These theoretical categories are Realism, Liberalism, International Society(the English School) the International Political Economy(the IPE).These theories were not bereft of their respective alternative approaches of which Social Constructivism has gained the greatest currency. This situation has merited her the appellation the jewel of International Relations. International Relations which evolved after the First World War as an academic subject has been the subject of three Debates during which time International Scholars had Think- tanks on the way forward of this discipline.

2.2.1.The First Major Debate.

2.2.1.1.The Liberal Theoretical Category.

The first major Debate in International Relations was the one between the Liberals and the Realists. This Debate was perfectly won by the realists. The political scientist professor- President of the United States in his Address to the Congress Asking for Declaration of War(see Vasquez(1996:35-40) borrowed a leaf from Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace. The U.S.A intervened in the savage war that arose in Europe taking sides with Britain and France against Germany, Austria and Turkey with the ultimate goal of enthroning liberal democratic regimes across the globe. Woodrow Wilson's liberal idealism followed on the heels of Norman Angell's publication in 1909 of The Great Illusion. The latter had argued that contrary to the prevailing notion that States could through war booties and conquests attain political and economic aggrandizement, wars actually retards development and modernization. He drew his conclusion inter alia from the wanton destruction of property, the savagery and the genocide that had visited the wars that were, like the European Continental 30 Years War(1618-1648), and the war that was raging, namely The First World War(1914-1918). According to Jackson and Sorensen therefore (Introduction to International Relations, Theories and Approaches, Oxford, 2007,pg.34):

Wilsonian idealism can be summarized as follows. It is the conviction that, through a rational and intelligently designed international organization, it should be possible to put an end to war and to achieve more or less permanent peace. The claim is not that it will be possible to do away with states and states-people by subjecting them to the appropriate international organizations, institutions and laws. The argument liberal idealists make is that traditional power politics ² so called Realpolitik- is a jungle so to speak, where dangerous beasts roam, and the strong and cunning rule, whereas under the league of Nations the beasts are put into cages reinforced by the strength of the international organization, i.e. into a kind of zoo.

The lofty ideals of the Liberals that liberal democracies do not and shall not wage wars against their own kinds and the world must be made safe for democracy through the establishment of a super State (a world check-and- balance organization) that would stem the beast in the Actors worked in the 1920s with the 1919 Versailles Peace Conference and the founding of the League of Nations. Wilson's reception of the Nobel Peace Award in 1919 supports the above point. Although the League of Nations had a lifespan of

26 years1920-1946), its relevance however was felt within the first ten years. According to Evans and Newnham (1992:176) the charter of the League of Nations tended to be colored with equivocations:

The League of Nations (1920-1946) contained three main Organs: the council(fifteen members including France, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union as permanent members) which met thrice a year; the Assembly(all members) which met annually and a Secretariat. All decisions had to be by unanimous vote. The underlying philosophy of the League was the principle of collective security which meant that the international community had a duty to intervene in international conflicts: it also meant that parties to a dispute should submit their grievances to the League. The center piece of the [league] Covenant was Article 16, which empowered the league to institute economic or military sanctions against a recalcitrant state. In essence, though, it was left to each member to decide whether or not a breach of the covenant had occurred and so whether or not to apply sanctions.

With this later proviso the drafting committee of the League tended a priori and ab initio to have sowed the seeds of Realism. Even the Democratic Peace Theory which enunciates that democratic nations will not wage war with their kinds based on the argumentation that democracies export their norms and sow the seeds of common identity, mutual trust and respect turns around to lose its teeth a propos the proviso that even if they have to go to war against each other, there must be a just cause and the rule of war had to apply. The just cause clause blunts the sharpness of the theory exposing it to realist orientation. In this regard beginning with the steering nations, the U.S.A, France and the Soviet Union tailored their level of commitment to the League according to their national interests. Since they drafted the Norms, they knew where the shoe was pinching and subtly knew how to maneuver their ways through the dicey and murky waters of the then global politicking. The U.S.A for instance neither endorsed nor signed the treaty establishing the League. Other States like Russia, Germany and Japan were walking in and walking out of the League as it pleased them. This situation justifies Vaughan. P. Shannon's argument(Norms are What States Make of Them: The Political Psychology Of Norm Violation, International Studies Quaterly, Vol. 44, No.2(June 2000)p.293-316) that norms are collective expectations for the proper behavior of Actors within a given context. Norms ought to have two components : Prescriptions and Parameters. Prescriptions refer to what the actor ought to or ought not do. The parameters relate to the given situations involved. While Paul Kowert and Jeffery Legro ( Norms, Identity, and Their Limits: A Theoretical Reprise. In: Peter Katzenstein(ed.). The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics,1996,chapter 12) see Norms as guidelines or expectations to proper behavior, they observed that there are so many contradictory interlocking norms that the Actors appear to be confused. Norms collide with each other all the time and the choice of Norms' compliance is according to the Rule of Rationality. In the face of such ambiguities arising from complex legalism and the show of juristic knowhow by experts who want to showcase their academic prowess, nations and actors who may feel threatened, always to wriggle out by following the alternative Norm of self preservation. The reaction to threat is namely defense. The powerful Actors in the international arena struggle to be part of the Norms' drafting body so that they could create the laws in very vague ways. Hence when they violate them, as they are used to, they would present these violations as part of the interpretations of the norm. This situation of things goes a long way to explain the dictum of the Seamstress who designed the wears wrongly only to defend her fashion designing flaws as a new mode. In the words of Shannon(2000:300):

Whether norm violation occurs depends on the interplay of the individual will and social ability to violate. Actors must feel justified to violate a norm to satisfy themselves and the need for a positive self-image, by interpreting the norm and the situation in a way that makes them feel exempt. As political creatures needing social approval, they must also sell this violation to their domestic and international audiences, or be able to deny the violation( for instance through covert operations). The ability to deny , justify or excuse untoward behavior to oneself and the others depends on two things: the norm itself and the situation at hand. First does the norm have parameters, or is it a universal? If it has parameters, are they interpretable, malleable, or elastic in the minds of decision-makers? Second does the situation at hand provide actors with a plausible outlet based on the norm's parameters? If the answer to these latter question is no, can the actor violate the norm in secret, offering deniability to external audiences? If the situation is not amenable to denial, an actor is unlikely to violate.

All these states of anarchy urged Friedrich Kratochwill (Rules, Norms and Decisions. On the Condition of Practical and legal Reasoning in International Relations and Domestic Affairs.1989,chapter 3) to prefer understanding Norms from the political therapeutic angle. Norms here is understood as guidelines for resolving conflicts and tools in ensuring co-operation. As problem solving mechanics, it is expected that through the use of norms in regimes and international organizations recurrent socio-political dilemma could be handled. In this case it is envisaged that interacting partners do not share in a common history or culture, and it is most likely that there is deadlock among interest groups, and there is urgent need to move forward. Norms whether Tacit or explicit have in realist situations been seen to be unworkable because of the willingness to violate Laws, which is innate in human habits. When this situation occurs, when the quest for power and expansionism crops up, the best ideals of Norms: instrument for comparing notes among actors and legitimization of social behavior, fly out through the window. This was the situation in the 1930s when nations like Italy, Germany, Spain, Poland, Yugoslavia, Hungary and Rumania that were expected to embrace the liberal democratic ideals saw that vision as utopian and preferred instead to go totalitarian, fascistic and wantonly autocratic. Authoritarianism became the other of the day. In this way history recorded that there is no other continent that has committed atrocities and wantonly meted out genocide and man's inhumanity to man than the continent of Europe. This sadism and savagery finds explanation in the realist writings of Edward. Hallett. Carr's The Twenty Years' Crises (1964)(1939) . Carr argued that the fact of conflicts in inter and intra- human and state relations is a given because persons and states are socio-economically unevenly placed. In such a scenario of the survival of the fittest, the condition and the possessor of the attribute the fittest keeps on changing. No Actor wants the other to have the exclusive preserve of any power or wealth. Carr(ch.4.) challenged this liberal and ethical utopianism in the followings:

Politically, the doctrine of the identity of interests has commonly taken the form of an assumption that every nation has an identical interest in peace, and that any nation which desires to disturb the peace is therefore both irrational and immoral. This view bears clear marks of its Anglo-Saxon origin. It was easy after 1918 to convince that part of mankind which lives in English-speaking countries that war profits nobody. The argument did not seem particularly convincing to Germans, who had profited largely from the wars of 1866 and 1870, and attributed their more recent sufferings, not to the war of 1914, but to the fact that they had lost it; or to Italians, who blamed not the war, but the treachery of allies who defrauded them in the peace settlement; or to Poles or Czecho-Slovaks who, far from deploring the war, owed their national existence to it; or to Frenchmen, who could not unreservedly regret a war which had restored Alsace- Lorraine to France; or to people of other nationalities who remembered profitable wars waged by Great Britain and the United States in the past. But these people had fortunately little influence over the formation of current theories of international relations, which emanated almost exclusively from the English-speaking countries. British and American writers continued to assume that the uselessness of war had been irrefutably demonstrated by the experience of 1914-18, and that an intellectual grasp of this fact was all that was necessary to induce the nations to keep the peace in the future; and they were sincerely puzzled as well as disappointed at the failure of other countries to share this view. The confusion was increased by the ostentatious readiness of other countries to flatter the Anglo-Saxon world by repeating its slogans. In the fifteen years after the first world war, every Great Power (except, perhaps, Italy) repeatedly did lip-service to the doctrine by declaring peace to be one of the main objects of its policy.

2.2.1.2.TheRealist theoretical category and the Three Images.

The liberals were either living in a fool's paradise or pretending to be doing so by claiming that a harmonious and conflict-free international rosy socio- political environment could be established. International politics just like all politicking is a fierce game for power. Augustine had earlier noted that ,, without the restraints of governments, men would slaughter each other until man is extinct''(Waltz 1959:32).Confucius saw all this much earlier when he stressed that " there is deceit and cunning and from these wars arise''. The human nature and the human habit which is utterly corrupt and prone to evil become an obstacle even when lip-service declarations are made:

But as Lenin observed long ago, peace in itself is a meaningless aim. "Absolutely everybody is in favor of peace in general," he wrote in 1915, "including Kitchener, Joffre, Hindenburg and Nicholas the Bloody, for everyone of them wishes to end the war." The common interest in peace masks the fact that some nations desire to maintain the status quo without having to fight for it, and others to change the status quo without having to fight in order to do so. The statement that it is in the interest of the world as a whole either that the status quo should be maintained, or that it should be changed, would be contrary to the facts. The statement that it is in the interest of the world as a whole that the conclusion eventually reached, whether maintenance or change, should be reached by peaceful means, would command general assent, but seems a rather meaningless platitude. The utopian assumption that there is a world interest in peace which is identifiable with the interest of each individual nation helped politicians and political writers everywhere to evade the unpalatable fact of a fundamental divergence of interest between nations desirous of maintaining the status quo and nations desirous of changing it. A peculiar combination of platitude and falseness thus became endemic in the pronouncements of statesmen about international affairs. "In this whole Danubian area," said a Prime Minister of Czecho-Slovakia, "no one really wants conflicts and jealousies. The various countries want to maintain their independence, but otherwise they are ready for any cooperative measures. I am thinking specially of the Little Entente, Hungary and Bulgaria." Literally the words may pass as true. Yet the conflicts and jealousies which nobody wanted were a notorious feature of Danubian politics after 1919, and the cooperation for which all were ready was unobtainable. The fact of divergent interests was disguised and falsified by the platitude of a general desire to avoid conflicts.

Hans J. Morgenthau, the German asylum seeker to the United States came to the Land of the birth and Nurture of International Relations Studies in the 1930s with a new vigor of Realism. Borrowing from the skeptics of Einstein and Freud on the futility of taming human bestiality he anchored the atrocities of imperialist Japan, the fascist Italy and the ethnic-cleansing Germany on the corrupted human nature which according to the Christian scriptures came with the original sin and the consequential propensity for sin and evil. Jackson and Sorensen(2007:37) quoting Goldhagen (1996) and following this lead maintained that even though such leaders as Hitler and Mussolini who were being presented as the scapegoats and the dictators of the dark history of their countries, did enjoy overwhelming and massive popular support. Even Hitler's political project, namely the most bestial and savage massive popular support among the Germans.

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Pages
59
Year
2010
ISBN (eBook)
9783640782253
ISBN (Book)
9783640782529
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678 KB
Language
English
Catalog Number
v162782
Institution / College
LMU Munich – Geschwister-Scholl Institut für Politische Wissenschaft
Grade
Eins
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Social Constructivism Gender Dimension International Relations Eins

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Title: Social Constructivism in international relations and the Gender Dimension