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International Relations' Last Synthesis?Decoupling Constructivist and Critical Approaches$
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J. Samuel Barkin and Laura Sjoberg

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190463427

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190463427.001.0001

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Understanding and Classifying Constructivisms

Understanding and Classifying Constructivisms

(p.43) 3 Understanding and Classifying Constructivisms
International Relations' Last Synthesis?

J. Samuel Barkin

Laura Sjoberg

Oxford University Press

The chapter discusses various ways that constructivism might be defined, and finds in them a tendency to make constructivisms into at once more than they are (by imbuing them with “naturally” associated politics) and less (by divorcing them from their roots as social theory). The chapter builds an argument that what constructivisms have in common is the ontological assumption of the social construction of international politics as expressed in methodology for doing International Relations research. This assumption should not be understood as taking specific ontologies, let alone methods, methodologies, or politics, as definitional of constructivism. Work can reasonably be described as constructivist if it builds on an ontology of co-constitution and intersubjectivity in the context of a particular set of methodological claims underlying a research exercise about global politics. This brackets what work might be called constructivist but does not associate constructivism either with any specific ontology or with any specific methodology.

Keywords:   International Relations theory, constructivism, ontology, methodology, co-constitution, intersubjectivity, intellectual history, Alexander Wendt, Nicholas Onuf, John Ruggie

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