Constructivism in International Relations: The Politics of Reality

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Maja Zehfuss critiques constructivist theories of international relations (currently considered to be at the cutting edge of the discipline) and finds them wanting and even politically dangerous. Zehfuss uses Germany's first shift toward using its military abroad after the end of the Cold War to illustrate why constructivism does not work and how it leads to particular analytical outcomes and forecloses others. She argues that scholars are limiting their abilities to act responsibly in international relations by looking towards constructivism as the future.

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Editorial Reviews

Insisting on the interconnectedness of theory and practice, Zehfuss (international relations, U. of Warwick, UK) argues that constructivist interpretations of international relations collapse under their own weight. Working through readings of Alexander Wendt, Friedrich Kratochwil, and Nicholas Onuf on Germany's increasing use of the military beyond its borders after the Cold War, she suggests that not only do they fail to adequately explain German policy, but that their writings play a dangerous part in conditioning that policy. Utilizing a Derridean perspective, she criticizes constructivism for not acknowledging that it takes many parts of reality as given, which leads to a closing down of the space available for critical thinking. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
From the Publisher
"...compelling...Zehfuss's book is a welcome engagement of postmodernism with constructivism in open scholarly debate." Review of Politics

"[A] useful contribution.... Recommended." Choice

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Product Details

Meet the Author

MAJA ZEHFUSS is Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Warwick.

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Table of Contents

List of abbreviations
1 Introduction 1
2 Identity change? Wendt's constructivism and German military involvement abroad 38
3 Intersubjectivity and the normative: Kratochwil's constructivism and German military involvement abroad 94
4 Words and world: Onuf's constructivism and German military involvement abroad 151
5 The politics of 'reality': Derrida's subversions, constructivism and German military involvement abroad 196
6 The politics of constructivism 250
Bibliography 264
Index 281
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