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Constructivist Approaches in International Relations Theory: Puzzles and Promises


  • Antje Wiener


By raising the question of what made constructivism possible the paper discusses the puzzle and promises of constructivist scholarschip in IR. It is argued that the communicative style which coined constructivism as a movement provides the key. Two puzzles are the focus, first, a lack of epistemological overlap, secondly, a disciplinary culture of consecutive debates which reached their high point of non-communication with the so-called Third Debate. However, while the constructivist movement gathered influence as a reference frame in the late 1990s, it is neither genuine to international relations theory nor does it originate in the 1990s. Why and how did constructivism manage to bring such a diverse group of scholars to one table? Section 2 of the paper develops the argument and introduces the concept of framing to understand the puzzle of conversation in IR. Section 3 recalls the emergence of constructivism, identifies the theoretical discussions and the significant conceptual moves. Section 4 summarizes the value-added and flags ‘norms’ research as the core of constructivist political science.

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  • Antje Wiener, 2006. "Constructivist Approaches in International Relations Theory: Puzzles and Promises," The Constitutionalism Web-Papers p0025, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:erp:conweb:p0025

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    1. Katzenstein, Peter J. & Keohane, Robert O. & Krasner, Stephen D., 1998. "International Organization and the Study of World Politics," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 52(04), pages 645-685, September.
    2. Checkel, Jeffrey T., 2005. "International Institutions and Socialization in Europe: Introduction and Framework," International Organization, Cambridge University Press, vol. 59(04), pages 801-826, October.
    3. James Tully, 2006. "A New Kind of Europe? Democratic Integration in the European Union," The Constitutionalism Web-Papers p0021, University of Hamburg, Faculty for Economics and Social Sciences, Department of Social Sciences, Institute of Political Science.
    4. Hall, Peter A. & Taylor, Rosemary C. R., 1996. "Political science and the three new institutionalisms," MPIfG Discussion Paper 96/6, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
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    international relations; political science;

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