Nov 15, 2018 in Analysis

Political Sciences Essay

Constructivism Theory: International Relations Theory

It has widely been wondered the need to seriously any international relations theory. However, it is important to understand while a theory basis itself with the international norms that have been agreed on, it is purely an academic venture and might not actually reflect the activities of a real world situation. In the international relations, constructivist have believed that creation of global institutions will enhance co-operations between states, regions and the entire world thus basically preempting any reason to get into an armed conflict. These global institutions could be, intergovernmental or Non-governmental organizations are viewed as global players with substantive amount of power ceded to them by the states. 

Again, constructivists observe that international relations system bases itself on human rights that ought to be common in all states and thus developing rule of norms. The rules are spread through the mechanisms and infrastructures put down by both intergovernmental organizations (IGO) as well as non-governmental organizations (NGO). Further, it is considered that IGO and NGO have a backing that allows them to level the necessary pressure on states to ensure compliance with the agreements. 


Policy makers generally derive their skills from a set of constructive propositions and questions that they hope will gladly drive their agenda of formulating a workable relationship between states. The nature of these constructivist relations could be ether positive constructivism or negative constructivism. Positive constructivism occurs when states develop friendlier relations that they intend to work on for mutual interest while negative will be based on relations for fear of each other as they perceive themselves to be enemies. 

A good example of a positive constructivism relationship between states would be like that which exists between the United States and United Kingdom. The constructive relation here is mainly based on the common values that they hold internationally such as democracy and free market economy, their common interests like war on terror, mutual respect and cultural identity between the two states and international trade (Joseph S. Nye Jr., 2012). 

Further, this relationship would be relevance by propositions such as a clear understanding of mutual trust and understanding as well as treatment of each other as allies. Such kind of trust enable them to work closely in major activities that each state would consider as international as well as co-operation in their defense strategies. An example of negative constructivism will resemble that of United States and The Islamic Republic of Iran which exist due to existing fears and mistrust between the two states. In this case, the two perceive each other as enemies yet they would still work together in some specific instances for the sake of global peace. One such instance is the negotiations to resolve the Iranian nuclear program to ensure it is used for peaceful purposes.

Differences between Constructivism Theory and Realism

Constructivism and realism are highly viewed as incompatible international paradigms. This view is based on a number of differences that exist between them. First, constructivists argue that in international relations power politics and identity politics are well reflected, while realist believe that international relations simply reflects the essentials of power politics as well as balancing of that power. 

Again, constructivism views existence of an international order as mainly dependent on perception that different states have towards one another. It basically believe that the most vital thing is whether states look at each other as potential threats or as potential friends who could corporate from time to time. It believes this to be the determinant on how an international relations system is going to be peaceful. 

On the other hand, realism envisages an international system as a recipe to anarchy. It basis its arguments on the need for states to seek and act in a manner that is meant to further empower themselves. It therefore does not find any need for international organizations which it concludes will most likely seek to increase their institutional power.

Modernist Theory: Balance of power

Balance of power is a modernist theory that braces itself in ensuring that states do not act in domination of other states. This is founded on use of international relations as equilibrium of power that is enough to deter one particular nation from imposing itself on the interests of another. The theory emphasizes that an effective way to guarantee proper check of the powers wielded by one state is to have a power by the other state. This is hoped will have the two states or groups of states from seeking domination over each other. The theory argues that an increase of the power by a state or a grouping of state without an increase in power of an opposing state or grouping would most likely destabilize the peaceful co-existence between states. 

Modernist theory in international relations has developed to push the current world from drawing back to the aggressiveness that was portrayed by certain states especially during the second world wars, where powerful states such as the Nazi Germany made attempts to control and occupy other European states. However, despite the existence of the theory the world has slowly slipped back to a uni-polar world where control rests on one state or a group allied to it as is the case with the United States and her NATO allies who have wielded great power after the collapse of the USSR and hence threatening the balance of power theory. 

Although Russia and China have the ability to protect them militarily from the coalition, their ability to protect other nations is limited as the wilder of the militarily power has better technology and control of financial resources. By diffusion of power, policy makers have their focus on how the financial difference and organizational difficulties in attempt to engage in new war methods such as economical or technological wars will shift the balance of power internationally. On the other hand, diversification of power means the use of different spheres of influence by a state or an alliance to win over those they compete against. 

These spheres of influence that are used for diversification would range from cultural, political, linguistic, diplomatic and financial or trade relations that would give them advantage over the other. In the modern world, there has been development of sophisticated weapons that endangers the entire world if put in use thus hurting parties involved in an armed conflict equally. This has driven most states to result to other means of exercising their muscle to deter those they perceive to be their enemies from having control over their own will or interests. In this they make use of technological competition, diplomacy, economic embargoes and well developed mechanisms for criticism and propaganda against their enemies (Gulick, 1967). 

In view of the US security, a modernist would view the country as having out grown its competitors for the recent past period, creating a uni-polar world that resulted to American domination of most global issues. However, this power has been challenged by the emergence of China as an economic power who also have the ability to challenge American militarily power. Moreover, the recent cooperation of the BRICS countries is widely seen as a challenger of NATO and American dominance. Having emerged as a sole global power, the US resulted to enforcing its authority and control over other states. 

This went along even to the extent of ignoring international organizations such as UN. As other powers rise, it would be appropriate for America to redefine its foreign policy to try and pull back states which feels that the country had unfairly targeted them. Again, a continued assault whether economically or militarily of this smaller nations would push them to the spheres of American enemies China and Russia. 

Assessment of Realist and Modernist Theories

Realist theory has its argument based on the world as it exists in that particular moment. Realists believe that relations cannot always be based on perception and that when states are a real threat, the best option is to act swiftly to eliminate the threat as opposed to applications of measures that would take time and allow the enemies to prepare. For example, when the US views the Chinese activities in the South China Sea as threatening to her regional allies, she has moved in to reassure them through military drills just like she has done with the Eastern Europe who she deems threatened by Russia (Joseph S. Nye Jr., 2012).  

By doing this, the US has thrown the modest theory of balance of power into action although extending the show of power further by participating in drills that could actually make the situation tenser. However, it is this acts that have acted as a deterrence to keep off big powerful nations from attacking or threatening smaller nations in these parts of the world. The similarity between the two theories is the existence of threats that may be in existence between states. However, there is also a difference on the ways that theorist or policy makers decide to deal with the threat whereby realism could be more confrontational as opposed to methods applied by modernist theorist which would prevent an escalation of the situation.


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