Constructivism structural factor that influence how states

Constructivism is concerned with human knowledge, norms and
ideals. According to constructivists the ideas a structural factor that
influence how states interpret their view on the world. Like realists they also
believe in the notion that the international stage is in a state of anarchy.

However, they argue that this does not justify the realist view that anarchy
leads to war. Alexander Wendt a scholar at the fore front of constructivism
claims that the “self-help and power in politics do not follow either logically
or causally from anarchy and that if today we find our-self in a self-help
world this is due to process not structure. There is no “logic” of anarchy
apart from the practices it creates and instantiate one structure of identities
and interests rather than another; structure has no existence or causal powers
apart from process.”1
Wendts’ quote clearly lays the foundations of the constructivist view that
states have a major role in helping to determine the international system. They
have other options other than war such as cooperation. Constructivists argue
that they are able to create conditions within the international arena rather
than deal with the ones that states are given. This can be seen in the analysis
of game theory in the analogy of a stag hunt. 
Realists would claim that in a stag hunt there is no incentive for those
involved to cooperate and so they should forego the benefits of the large prey
in favour of the smaller prey that will allow their survival. This is because
according to realists in the self-help system of anarchy you can-not be sure of
the actions of others and so you must look out for yourself and be selfish
rather than cooperate with others to ensure survival. Constructivists however
argue that the anarchic feature of international relations is what we make of
it and so we can choose to make it self-help or cooperative. Constructivists
also value the ideas of norms when explaining why states chose to cooperate or
not. An example of this is the fall of the USSR. Constructivist claim that it
was the change of global norms shifting towards democracy rather than security
that led to the cooperation of the USA and the Soviet Union leading to the end
of the cold war.

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1 Wendt, A. (1992). Anarchy is what states make of it:
the social construction of power politics. International Organization,
46(02), p.391.


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