Constructivism in international relations : the politics of reality /

Main Author: Zehfuss, Maja.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2002.
Series: Cambridge studies in international relations ; 83
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Review by Choice Review

Zehfuss (Univ. of Warwick, UK) critiques the constructivist approach to the study of international politics. Devoting a chapter to each--as well as a lengthier one on Jacques Derrida--she focuses on the work of Alexander Wendt, Friedrich Kratochwill (by far the most prolific of the constructivists), and Nicolas Onuf. Pointing out that there is no agreed definition of constructivism, Zehfuss notes that the approach is receiving a great deal of attention at academic conferences, etc., but that there is no dialogue between constructivists and those relying on traditional or rationalist approaches. To test the analytical utility of constructivism, she analyzes the political debate in Germany over the use of its military in post-Cold War conflicts through the constructivist lens. Zehfuss concludes that its utility is limited, at least in part because of the contradictions underlying the constructivist approach. Although linguistic thickets of constructivists as well as their critics make some arguments difficult to follow, this is a useful contribution to a spare store of critiques of constructivist literature. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Graduate, research, and professional collections. R. P. Peters University of Massachusetts at Boston

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