This introductory chapter begins by setting out the purpose of the book, which is to cover the origins and early years of the Cold War, and hence to give an answer to the question of what “caused” the Cold War, as well as what shaped its early trajectory in various parts of the world. It argues that societal constructivism can provide an account for a broad array of Soviet relationships with countries around the world, including China, Eastern Europe, the decolonizing world, and the United States. This is not a book about Soviet foreign policy, strictly speaking. It is about Soviet relations with an array of states, but not about particular Soviet foreign policy decisions with respect to any of them. The chapter then explains the following concepts: constructivism, social identity, systemic constructivism, norm-centric constructivism, and societal constructivism. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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