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Weaknesses of Constructivism International Relations

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Constructivism in international relations is one of the new concepts in the field and falls at the heels of the theories of realism, liberalism, and Marxism (economic structuralism) that exist in international relations. Constructivism is challenging realistic and liberal anarchy assumptions and the international system. Constructivism, as we shall see, focuses on ideas of norms, structural development, the relationship between actors and such structures, and how identity influences actions and behavior between and between actors (Reus-Smit, 2005: 188).

Constructivists often focus on the concept of anarchy, but on the anarchic model, we are moving away from prior positions. Constructivism, emphasizes the construction of what states are and what they want socially and relatively (Hurd, 2008). In a socially constructed world, the nature of patterns, relationships of cause and effect, and even states themselves depend on the systems of interpretation and behaviors that make them up (Kratochwil, 1989). As one of the leading thinkers on constructivism, Alexander Wendt (1992), in his seminal essay ‘Anarchy is What States Make of it: The Social Construction of Power Politics, says “Self-help and Power Politics do not derive from anarchy whether logically or causally, and if we find ourselves in a world of self-help, this is due to nature, not structure”. The variables of interest to scholars such as military power, trade relations, international institutions, or domestic preferences are not relevant in the Constructivist account because they are materialistic facts about the world, not because they have certain social meanings (Wendt 2000).

Within world politics, a contrary approach to ‘social construction’ is the stance known as ‘materialism,’ which implies that material structures (bombs, men’s power, etc.) have a direct impact on results that are not influenced by the ideas that people bring to them. So, Constructivism is basically an alternative to Materialism.

Constructivism focuses on how concepts, norms, values, and identities are formed and developed, how they evolve, and how they alter the perception and reaction of states to their situation (, 2019). When defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (1) ‘Concept’ means A generic argument or general concept from specific instances. (2) ‘Norms’ is defined as A rule of right action binding on group members to direct, monitor or govern good and reasonable behavior. (3) ‘Values’ can be understood as: Anything intrinsically valuable or desirable (such as a concept or a quality). Lastly, (4) ‘Identities’ is considered as Anything intrinsically valuable or desirable (such as a concept or a quality).

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The above definitions are examples of the ‘non-material’ factors under the Constructivism theory. Why is this important? Constructivism opposed the hypothesis of the intensity of governmental issues, particularly the predominant impression of the danger and struggle in worldwide legislative issues, and picked a completely unique methodology in considering the development of the risk through their basic spotlight on the social elements of global legislative issues, along these lines, it remembers them as socially built components during the time spent personality arrangement affected by the standards and shared estimations of society.

Constructivism focuses on the social context in which international relations exist. Constructivists discuss questions of identity and belief. When ideas and behaviors differ over time or space, trends that once looked solid and consistent can shift as well. Sovereignty, for instance, is a social institution in the sense that a state can only be sovereign if it is regarded by individuals and other states as a private agent with rights and obligations over territory and people. As constructivists demonstrate in international relations, states frequently act differently based on each other’s nationality, interests, culture, and relationship.

My critics and opinions based on the idea of Constructivism includes, the sense of logic and also a little bit based on facts. The world is constantly changing and evolving and so is humanity. As we know, Constructivism has no permanent set of rules and thinking because it is mostly about the construction of a state (etc. ) based on how the nation is socially constructed. I prefer to think as a Constructivist in shaping a state’s behavior because the state itself is made up of its citizens and residents. How can we not include them (citizens) in shaping a state’s behavior? The citizens (residents of a state) are the most important main component of the state!

To think in a Constructivist way is to push aside all the material factors that are important to other scholars which include power, military, economics (etc.) in the ideologies such as Realism and Liberalism. I totally agree if the Constructivism ideology is used as a way of shaping a state’s behavior because the nation makes the state strong, no matter how rich they are, or how advanced and developed they are (the state). For example, if a state has advanced weapons for armies, but no one to fight for the country, the state is still considered weak (because of lacking men power) and if a state makes a profit from the trading of economics, but the citizens are slowly migrating to other states, it is still considered a weak state.

To shape a state’s behavior using the idea of Constructivism is to consider the fact that decisions and agreements tend to change a lot (depending on the context and events). Because it is based on how society changes and evolves, Constructivism is a good approach for shaping a state’s behavior as it does not prioritize material factors as they could disappear in a split second, so using a ‘non-material’ approach could secure a stare’s behavior.


  1. Hurd, I. (2008). [online] Available at:
  2. (2019). Constructivism in International Relations – International Affairs Forum. [online] Available at:
  3. (2019). Constructivism in International Relations. [online] Available at:
  4. (2019). [online] Available at:

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