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Constructivism and Post-Structuralism - Essay Example

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Constructivism and Post-Structuralism

Constructivism's 'importance and its added value for the study of International Relations lie mainly in its emphasis on the ontological reality of intersubjective knowledge and on the epistemological and methodological implications of this reality'. He devotes an entire section to elucidating intersubjectivity as collectively shared knowledge which both empowers and constrains actors and also defines social reality. The upshot of Adler's portrayal of constructivism is, as the title of his article suggests, that it has a justifiable claim to the 'middle ground', which he construes as situated between rationalism and poststructuralism. Adler identifies 'seizing the middle ground' as the key to the constructivist project. This assessment is echoed by other scholars. Hopf sees constructivism as situated in the middle ground between rational choice theory and postmodernism, whilst Ted Hopf locates it between the mainstream and critical theory. Thus in defining constructivism scholars make reference to recognising the material world as existing independently of, but interacting with, the social world, the central role of intersubjectivity and the significance of occupying a middle-ground position. Wendt's positioning in the middle ground, related to a particular notion of identity; Kratochwil's reliance on an unproblematic intersubjectivity, based on normative context; and Onuf's claim to an independently existing material world behind our constructions. The acknowledgement of materiality appear to be crucial....
(Katzenstein, 1998, 645-85) This takes us on to a second key element of constructivism, namely intersubjectivity. (Guzzini, 2000, 147-82).
According to Adler, constructivism's 'importance and its added value for the study of International Relations lie mainly in its emphasis on the ontological reality of intersubjective knowledge and on the epistemological and methodological implications of this reality'. (Adler, 1997, 319-63) He devotes an entire section to elucidating intersubjectivity as collectively shared knowledge which both empowers and constrains actors and also defines social reality. (Adler, 1997, 319-63) The upshot of Adler's portrayal of constructivism is, as the title of his article suggests, that it has a justifiable claim to the 'middle ground', which he construes as situated between rationalism and poststructuralism. (Adler, 1997, 319-63)Adler identifies 'seizing the middle ground' as the key to the constructivist project. This assessment is echoed by other scholars. Hopf sees constructivism as situated in the middle ground between rational choice theory and postmodernism, whilst Ted Hopf locates it between the mainstream and critical theory. (Hopf, 1998, 171-200)
Thus in defining constructivism scholars make reference to recognising the material world as existing independently of, but interacting with, the social world, the central role of intersubjectivity and the significance of occupying a middle-ground position. Wendt's positioning in the middle ground, related to a particular notion of identity; Kratochwil's reliance on an unproblematic intersubjectivity, based on normative context; and Onuf's claim to an
independently existing material world behind our constructions. (Onuf, 1989, 45-50) The acknowledgement ...Show more

Summary

The researcher of this essay analyzes "Constructivism and Post-Structuralism. Wendt's, Kratochwil's and Onuf's approaches take given realities as their starting points, but this also seems to be a key part of the constructivist project more broadly. …
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