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Hans-Martin Jaeger



Early Wendtian and Habermasian constructivism in IR displayed a number of traits that were inconsistent with constructivist sociological theory. These included state-centrism and actorhood, a voluntarist and intentionalist conception of agency, the limited focus on the problems of anarchy and cooperation, a partial insistence on causal models, a conception of the problem of order in terms of normative integration, the dissociation of norms and power, and the lack of a theory of socialisation (accounting for the formation of identities and interests). Focusing on Wendt’s seminal Social Theory of International Politics as well as exemplary formulations of Habermasian constructivism, this paper examines to extent which these early constructional defects of mainstream constructivism in IR were fixed or persist in its mature formulations. The conclusion of the paper reflects on broader challenges to (and opportunities for) constructivism deriving from a changing disciplinary and political context. Where early constructivist scholarship largely wrestled with the neo-neo synthesis and the political context of the end of the Cold War, contemporary constructivist scholarship is well advised to engage with the practice (and material) turns and to address postcolonial challenges and the reality of a post-Western world.

Keywords: constructivism, agency, anarchy, socialisation, practice theory


Bibliography: Jaeger, Hans-Martin: Revisiting Constructional Defects of Constructivism in IR, ERIS, 3-2016, pp. 14-26.


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