A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations
Title: A Reconstruction of Constructivism in International Relations
Author: GUZZINI, Stefano
Citation: European Journal of International Relations, 2000, 6, 2, 147-182
ISSN: 1354-0661; 1460-3713
In order to avoid both theoretically eclectic and redundant approaches to constructivism, this article proposes one possible and coherent reconstruction of constructivism understood as a reflexive meta-theory. This reconstruction starts by taking seriously the double sociological and interpretivist turn of the social sciences. Based on `double hermeneutics', constructivism is perhaps best understood by distinguishing its position on the level of observation, the level of action proper, and the relationship between these two levels. On the basis of this distinction, the article argues that constructivism is epistemologically about the social construction of knowledge and ontologically about the construction of social reality. It furthermore asks us to combine a social theory of knowledge with an intersubjective, not an individualist, theory of action. Finally, the analysis of power is central to understanding the reflexive link between the two levels of observation and action. The argument is embedded in a contextualization where constructivism is seen as inspired by `reflexive modernity', as well as more directly by the end of the Cold War.
(Based on parts of Chapter 11 of the author's EUI PhD Thesis, 1994.) http://hdl.handle.net/1814/5139
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