This chapter sets up an identity crisis in International Relations theorizing as the context for the currently complicated relationship between constructivism and critical theorizing, both in disciplinary International Relations–centered theory discussions and in empirical research about global politics. It argues that in the face of a proliferation of theoretical perspectives and increasing uncertainty about the nature of the world of global politics “out there,” there has been a tendency of theorists outside the “neo-neo synthesis” of realisms and liberalisms to consolidate their work into another synthesis, one between constructivist and critical International Relations. The chapter makes the preliminary case that constructivism and critical theory should be seen as orthogonal rather than complementary, and that the two should be seen as sets of tools for research and argumentation, rather than as paradigmatic unities. Finally, the chapter introduces the idea of affordances as a way of thinking about what the two can do well.
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