International Relations Constructivism


There are many schools of thought that govern the way individuals view society and the way it has developed over time. International relations constructivism is a discipline that theorizes that the politics of various countries has been formed by social and historical events, rather than as a natural progression based on politics and the natural consequences of human behavior. This social method of construction is vastly different than the well-known ideas of idealism and realism.

The Basic Ideas of Constructivism

International relations constructivism can be defined simply in this way: the status of the world and its individual nations is what we, as individuals, make them to be. While the realists felt that relations between nations was simply what it was for no particular reason, constructivists feel the world is of our own making. This theory recognizes that international relations is a constantly changing field. Countries that are unhappy with their status in relation to other countries need only exact modifications within their social behaviors to make changes in their relations with other countries. This puts control into the hands of the people and individual governments, rather than random events or other stimuli, which are the tenets of other theories.

The History of Constructivism

International relations constructivism is a relatively new theory, developed in the late 1980s to early 1990s. In fact, some scholars claim it isn’t a theory at all, but rather an explanation of a method by which international relations exists. After the Cold War, the theory of constructivism has grown widely, creating opportunities to expand upon the theory and make changes to better illustrate how it works. Most constructivists operate under the premise that relationships between countries are based upon the actions of the people, instead of material exchanges or natural consequences, as many of the other international relations theories state. This particular theory regarding international relations is seen as the middle of the road between rationalist and interpretive theories.

How Is Constructivism Used

Because of the youth of constructivism theory, there are few historical examples of how it operates. However, examples of constructivist ideas can be seen in many schools. Today, classrooms are focusing more on student-led education, tailoring the curriculum to the needs and pace of the students within a class, rather than creating a standard curriculum that is used for all children across an entire city, state, or even country. This method of education has become widely popular in recent years.

International relations constructivism may still be a developing theory, but it is one that should not be ignored. The idea that humans are in control of their own destiny, especially in terms of how countries relate and interact with each other, encourages individual responsibility in monitoring actions. While this theory is still challenged by other belief systems of international relations, it is one that is growing and changing the way people look at the world today.