The Constructivist Challenge after September 11

Christian Reus-Smit

in International Society and its Critics

Published in print August 2004 | ISBN: 9780199265206
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601866 | DOI:
The Constructivist Challenge after September 11

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The final two chapters in Part One investigate the evolving research agenda of the English School of International Relations and its contribution to contemporary international relations. In this chapter, the author investigates the emerging dialogue between English School and constructivist approaches in order to explore how they help to understand the post‐September 11 world, arguing, in particular, that, taken together, both English School and constructivist scholarship can add much to the understanding of contemporary international society. The chapter undertakes two tasks, first, it revisits an argument made elsewhere by the author: that although constructivism and the English School share much in common, and there is considerable scope for productive engagement, scholars on both sides are currently mired in an unproductive dialogue of stereotypes. In this dialogue, constructivists draw little more from the English School than the well‐rehearsed proposition that states can form international societies not just systems, and English School scholars focus too heavily on the statist, positivistic form of constructivism associated with the writings of Alexander Wendt – although it is likely to be far more fruitful to see both perspectives as bounded realms of debate, each characterized by significant internal debates over ontology, methods, and ethics. The chapter's second task is to suggest how an enriched dialogue between constructivism and the English School could be productively deployed to grapple with some of the central research questions of the post‐September 11 world: namely, the relationship between power and institutions, international society and world society, and order and justice.

Keywords: constructivism; dialogue; English School of International Relations; institutions; international relations; international society; international systems; justice; order and justice; order; post‐September 11 world; power and institutions; power; research agenda; world society

Chapter.  7132 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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