Constructivism And Wendt's Response To Realism And Liberalism

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Constructivism started out as a critical theory in response to Realism and Liberalism. Realists believe the pursuit of power and relative gains are the motivating factors of states’ actions, while liberalists believe that the pressure of the international system is what pushes states into action. Constructivists say that both of these factors are socially constructed, and therefore not everything is as black and white as it is presented in Realism and Liberalism. The constructivist critique of the other two paradigms are not unfounded or even radically different. As Wendt says, Constructivism shares the five main assumptions of Realism which are that states are rational, the international system is anarchic, states are not fully trusting of one another, and they also have offensive capabilities. The difference in assumptions for constructivists, however, is firstly that material structure is not all determining, secondly, norms and ideas are important, and thirdly, individuals and nonstate actors are the key to the promotion of ideas. Wendt focuses on the first assumption that material …show more content…
Constructivists differ from liberalists, however, in that change does not have to come from the abolition of international anarchy; the change can come when a state redefines its interests and other states’ interests and creates its own peaceful structure. A realist would criticize Constructivism in that a state can change its interests, but it cannot change another state’s. That other state could still threaten the security of the first state, and whatever they “constructed” would not help. Wendt states that “possibility is not probability” when determining the risk of war, but a realist would most likely say that just the possibility of war is enough to prevent a state from changing its self-serving

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