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Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

13. Social constructivism  

Michael Barnett

This chapter examines constructivist approaches to international relations theory. It explores whether there is a possibility of moral progress in world politics, whether some cultures and countries are more (or less) inherently violent, and whether states are motivated by power or by ideas. The chapter also discusses the rise of constructivism and some key concepts of constructivism, including the agent–structure problem, holism, idealism, individualism, materialism, and rational choice. It concludes with an analysis of constructivist assumptions about global change. Two case studies are presented, one relating to social construction of refugees and the 2015 European migration crisis, and the other considers what it means to be a ‘victim’.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

1. Introduction: from international politics to world politics  

John Baylis, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens

This chapter introduces the text which offers a comprehensive analysis of world politics in a global era. The text examines the main theories of world politics— realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, poststructuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism. It reviews the main structures and processes that shape contemporary world politics, such as global political economy, international security, war, gender, and race. Furthermore, it addresses some of the main policy issues in the globalized world, including poverty, human rights, health (with particular emphasis on the recent global pandemic), and the environment. This introduction offers some arguments both for and against seeing globalization as an important new development in world politics. It also explains the various terms used to describe world politics and the academic field, particularly the use of ‘world politics’ rather than ‘international politics’ or ‘international relations’. Finally, it summarizes the main assumptions underlying realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

Introduction  

From international politics to world politics

Patricia Owens, John Baylis, and Steve Smith

This text offers a comprehensive analysis of world politics in a global era. It examines the main theories of world politics—realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, poststructuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism. It reviews the main structures and processes that shape contemporary world politics, such as global political economy, international security, war, gender, and race. Furthermore, it addresses some of the main policy issues in the globalized world, including poverty, human rights, and the environment. This introduction offers some arguments both for and against seeing globalization as an important new development in world politics. It also explains the various terms used to describe world politics and the academic field, particularly the use of ‘world politics’ rather than ‘international politics’ or ‘international relations’. Finally, it summarizes the main assumptions underlying realism, liberalism, Marxism, social constructivism, post-structuralism, post-colonialism, and feminism.

Chapter

Cover The Globalization of World Politics

12. Social constructivism  

Michael Barnett

This chapter examines constructivist approaches to international relations theory. It explores whether there is a possibility of moral progress in world politics, whether some cultures and countries are more (or less) inherently violent, and whether states are motivated by power or by ideas. The chapter also discusses the rise of constructivism and some key concepts of constructivism, including the agent–structure problem, holism, idealism, individualism, materialism, and rational choice. It concludes with an analysis of constructivist assumptions about global change. Two case studies are presented, one relating to social construction of refugees and the 2015 European migration crisis, and the other to the ‘human rights revolution’ and torture. There is also an Opposing Opinions box that asks whether the laws of war have made war less horrific.