Difference Between Realism And Social Constructivism

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Though these theories differentiate themselves from each other significantly, they still have sections of overlap that connect them along a common foundation. The primary similarity is that all theories acknowledge the presence of anarchy in the international system. They all base their suppositions of interactions between actors, state or non-state, on the idea that they exist in an international, anarchic void (Smuthkalin). Though the degree to which they credit anarchy with causality varies from theory to theory, its permanence and permeation are constant. The differences between these theories, however, is what sets liberalism apart as the most accurate descriptor of international politics. Both realism and social constructivism are…show more content…
Though these organizations and treaties are not perfect, they work toward building a more non-violent world. Social constructivism is also subject to critiques that make it less viable in explaining international politics than liberal institutionalism. The bulk of these negative assessments center around constructivism’s over emphasis on norms. This starts with the idea of ‘norms’ as too broad, with social constructivists always able to find a norm to apply to a given situation (Kowert). They attribute changes in identities and interests of states to the norms those states foster, but social constructivist definition of norms is so broad that it could encompass nearly anything. Constructivists use norms as an explanatory tool for action, but the broad nature of the definition is the concept’s undoing. When norms are “generally accepted values that define standards of appropriate behavior” (Viotti), multiple norms can be found in any one interaction. When multiple norms are present, it is difficult to tell which are causal and which display spurious relationships. This is what Kowert calls an “embarrassment of norms”(Kowert), where there is a flood of norms in society that causes several rival or conflicting norms to influence the same actor. It becomes hard to tell what actions an actor will take when they are confronted with conflicting societal pressures. No matter which action the actor does take, the value of norms
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