International relations is a large and dynamic field with various hypotheses that play important roles. Furthermore, these hypotheses assist in the interpretation of different behavioral patterns and can be used to make unbiased forecasts. Furthermore, these ideas have been in use in the international sphere for decades, and their application is still relevant in today’s society. The two philosophies into which this paper would dive in depth are constructivism and the well-known feminist philosophy. It is important to remember that these two hypotheses are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the plethora of theories that constitute foreign relations. Constructivism is an age-long theory practiced for decades and due to this it has cemented its place in the global policy arena (Adler 115).
Construcvitims first came into being as a interpretive methatheory when it was first discovered by Colling wood, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Wilhelm Dilthey. Their main argument was not to ensre that there was clash between literary interpretations and science but to ensure that to ensure that it was part of the nature of social science which is an IR discipline. For many years the international relations has been majorly been made up of the two dominant approaches which are liberalism and realism theories. However in the recent times the theory of constructivism has come to be extensively utilized. In specific this theory takes issue with the aforementioned theories of liberalism and realist, which have assumptions about the international system and anarchy. It therefore is more focused on the development of structures, ideas of norms and the association that exists between the various actors with the prevailing structures. That notwithstanding it tends to encompass the influences of identity based on the behaviors and actions that are undertaken by various actors.
It is evident to note that the IR has in the recent times experienced a constructive turn. Therefore the unique constructivism preoccupation provides a viable opportunity to further comprehend the association of feminism and the international relation mainstream. It is important to note that constructivism and feminism share some similarities. One of them is that constructivism has tended to appreciate gender as a crucial category through explaining gender identities and norms tend to be constructed. The result is there has been the emergence of feminist constructivism which is based on the ideologies of constructivism which tends to focus more on the impact of females in the international politics. However their differences have growing and it is based on the treatment of power and gender (Kubálková 56). IR feminists tend to highlight that both power and gender as being integral elements while on the other constructivists tend to term power as being external to other processes. The failure to conceptualize gender and power by the constructivists has caused them to fail to see an important part played by power politics. Constructivism is based on the fact that people tend to gain knowledge through the ideas and interactions. However female constructivists tend to have a different view from the traditional ones as they perceive the differences that exists between men and women are the product of cultural training and socialization. Therefore are those feminists who feel that constructivism has at a great extent ignored gender analysis and feminist literature
A proper understanding of the constructivist theory can be aided through an in-depth understanding of the approach utilized by Alexander Wendt. The constructivist theory of IR is based on four key elements which include praxes, shared knowledge, material resources and mutual constitution of structures and agents. Material resources are key to constructivists as it matters but are best at the initial point. For instance the perception that north Korea’ having nuclear weapons is a threat to the world compared to the nuclear women’s that both France and Britain has is one that ought to be investigated. It is majorly based on the fact there is capability distribution that is discounted towards France and Britain and one that is not given to North Korea. However based on the realists view, the intentions can change which therefore would also mean that France and Britain also ought to be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Alexander specifically compares 5 North Korean weapons as being of great impact to the world when compared to 500 British nuclear weapons. It is clearly based on the fact that North Korea is termed as an enemy of the US while Britain is a friend. Therefore based on this element the theory begs the question of what criteria is used in determining which nation is a friend and which one is an enemy. The theory is therefore critical in providing an in-depth explanation of both terms which therefore sets it apart from other IR theories. The second element is shared knowledge which based on constructivists tend to imply that shared understanding is key in the constitution of relations. In this case there is a dilemma between security community and security dilemma. Security community tends to imply the relationships that exists among allied countries where the use of force is completely not conceivable. Such countries may include US and Canada or countries within the EU. The third element is practice which tends to note that social structures tend to be present in the actors praxes and not in the material factors (distribution of capabilities). Further this element tends to highlight institutions as being regularized praxes. Realists tend to highlight the union that exists between the EU and NATO as being one that is characterized by anomalies. For instance states ought to be in relationships where there are relative gains in the absence of material threat. The final element is the mutual constitution structures and agents. In this element the constructivists tend to note that social structures and agents tend to have a mutual constitution of each other through their practices. Therefore anarchy is what states tend to perceive of it. For instance there can be a mutual help system where they can be a collective security if different nations in the relationship are involved in such practices.
Feminist theory to IR
The contribution of feminist theory to the entire interaction relations is one that is marked with complexities. It is based on the fact that the feminist discourse is one that is multifaceted and one that has been marginalized within the study of international relations. It is important to note that feminist theories are aimed at exposing the gender biases that have for long existed in the conventional interactional relation theories such as liberal and realism. Therefore the main goal of feminist theories have been to reconstruct and come up with a gender neutral outlook that will encompass international politics (Ackerly, Brooke, and Jacqui 695). The reason why feminist theories have been termed as marginalized is based on the fact that many IR scholars while utilizing other theories they tend to avoid the feminist theories and as they engage in productive debates they rarely utilize the ideologies that are provided by the feminist critiques. That notwithstanding women are also to be blamed as they are fear cooption and also are not willing to let their theories to be subsumed by other schools of thoughts.
It is important to note that just as constructivism was later applied in interaction relations, the feminist theorizes have relatively lately come to be embraced. It is only in the 1980s that scholars commenced to examine how gender influenced the international relations practices and theories. Feminist theories tend to note that paradigms such as liberal institutionalism, neo realism and realism have be to blamed on presenting a partial view of the true story of international politics. In specific, the aforementioned theories are majorly based on political assumptions that fail to paint the ideal picture of the current international politics. For instance these theories have largely been blamed for their failure to provide an in-depth explanation of the Soviet Union collapse, and the end of the cold war albeit it being peaceful and sudden (Baylis et al 67). It is vital to highlight that the feminist approach can’t be termed as a single unitary theory but one that is a discourse that is made up of various competing theories. For instance the liberal feminists are more contend on ensuring that there is equal rights for women not only in education but also in the economy.
On the other hand the Marxist feminists are keener to ensure that there is a transformation of the oppressive socioeconomic factors that characterize our capitalist societies. There are also postmodern feminists who are of the opinion that there doesn’t exist an authentic women’s standpoint or experience that can be utilized as a template in comprehending the world. However dispute there being different views by feminist, all the feminist IR scholars have one thing in common and that is to ensure that there is level playing ground for men and women. Feminists although in different ways are aimed at providing an explanation on the role of gender in the IR practice through locating women in international politics and how they are affected by the behavior and structure in the international system. They are aimed at reconstructing the international relation theory in a more gender neutral way.
One particular area that feminists have concentrated on in the recent decades is the imposition of female legislative members. There has been a widespread condemnation of male domination in the international politics and therefore feminist scholars tend to outline that females are of critical importance to international politics as they provide a different perspective. Therefore they have been extensive campaigns on the inclusion of women in legislative posts. The result is that countries such as wales have advanced to the extent that there is 50% women participation in parliament (Baylis et al 97). Norway provides another viable case study where feminists have made considerable efforts to ensure that women are now part of the decision making bodies. For instance Norway has introduced sex quotas to ensure that women have equal representation in public bodies. The result is that there has been significant progress in areas such as child custody, divorce and domestic violence legislations. The support for women ideas has grown tremendously in many societies as they have played a critical role in ensuring that there is public awareness.
The contribution of feminist international relation theories to the entire discipline is one that is very difficult to access as a whole. However that is certain is that liberal feminist have continuously made huge contributions to the international politics practice which has resulted to change being effected in both international and national policies. Nonetheless it is important to note that feminist analysis can be of huge impact in the transformation in the way international relation scholars can be able to understand vital concepts such as security, power, state. It will help in bringing the feminist theory closer to reality by ensuring that scholars are able to refocus their interest in matters such as women rights, individual human rights, interdependence and soft power. As a whole it is certain to highlight that feminist literature has made major contributions to IR based on the fact it has provided underlying normative biases that have come to known as foundations of the traditional IR theory. Additionally they have been critical in highlighting how the existing theories have failed to factor in the half of the world’s population in their theories. It is certain to highlight that this is an unbelievable oversight that need to be completely brushed aside.
Ackerly, Brooke, and Jacqui True. “Reflexivity in practice: Power and ethics in feminist research on international relations.” International Studies Review 10.4 (2008): 693-707.
Adler, Emanuel. “Constructivism in international relations: sources, contributions, and debates.” Handbook of international relations 2 (2013): 112-144.
Baylis, John, Patricia Owens, and Steve Smith, eds. The globalization of world politics: An introduction to international relations. Oxford University Press, 2017.
Kubálková, Vendulka. International relations in a constructed world. Routledge, 2015.