If It Is Everything, It is Nothing: An Outsider’s Argument for Specificity in Constructivisms

J. Samuel Barkin, Laura Sjoberg

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


It is our problems with these constructivisms that cause us to worry about the label “constructivist” and of research programs that self-identify as a part of “constructivist IR.” This chapter will discuss in more detail three of our key misgivings: the tendency to associate constructivisms with progressive politics, the tendency to apply overbroad notions of the social and of norms to global politics, and problematic (mis)understandings of the notion of “social construction.” In engaging all three of these problems, we make the argument that the politics of having a constructivism in IR is a positive one, but that IR constructivisms often destroy their potential contributions by overreaching their theoretical and political potential.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationConstructivism Reconsidered
Subtitle of host publicationPast, Present, and Future
EditorsMariano Bertucci, Jarrod Hayes, Patrick James
Place of PublicationAnn Arbor
PublisherUniversity of Michigan Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-472-12376-6
ISBN (Print)978-0-472-13110-5, 978-0-472-03715-5
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • constructivism
  • international relations theory
  • international relations
  • epistemology

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