During the late 1980s, when debates between neorealists and neoliberals seemed to exhaust themselves, so-called ‘constructivist' researches made their appearance. By asserting themselves as an alternative to realism, they reinterpret its main concepts (power, national interest, sovereignty…). Moreover, it introduced issues then regarded as marginal in International Relations analysis: identity, culture…
Major features of international system were no longer seen as natural, inherent in or given by its structure, but as by-products of social context and the effect of actors' subjectivity. A deconstruction work began in the discipline. In the particular area of security studies, constructivism will want to question the ‘unquestionable idol Security'.
By putting a little bit aside the realist military state-centred empirical focus on security to privilege security's ontological and epistemological dimensions, constructivist scholars have tried to renew security studies.
Consequently, it is interesting to wonder if, by so doing, constructivism really adds anything new to debates about security.
After a presentation of constructivism applied to security studies (I), it will be easier to evaluate its ‘real' contributions to theoretical debates (II)
[...] Katzenstein The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identity in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996) p. E. Adler, ‘Imagined (Security) Communities: Cognitive Regions in international Relations', Millenium pp. 240-265. A. Blom, F. Charillon, Théories et concepts des relations internationales (Paris: Hachette Livre, 2001), p See notably the critique of O. F. Knudsen, ‘Post-Copenhagen Security Studies: Desecuritizing Securitization', Security Dialogue 32, No September 2001, p Here again, I refer mainly to the influence of Foucaldian and Nietzscheian philosophies. J. [...]
[...] Some scientific limits One blames constructivist approach for being sometimes too caricatured in its efforts to deconstruct security. It is accused to develop a sort of ‘sociology of suspicion', by accusing systematically security to be the instrument of an established order, a lobby (especially the military one), an order or a State power. In that perspective, it is maybe possible to say that to a certain extent, constructivism sometimes pays the consequences of its origins. For constructivists, the choice only lies in just reminding the constructed character of security or stopping talking about it. [...]
[...] Indeed, the symbolic interactionism (as known as the sociologic school of Chicago) has always claimed, notably with Herbert Blumer, the utilization of an exclusively qualitative approach that does not try and even want - to adopt a more objective stance. Actors' subjectivity is the only horizon. For the influence of this school on constructivism, see the footnotes of Wendt, op. cit pp. 397-398. T. Balzacq, ‘Qu'est-ce que la sécurité nationale', La revue internationale et stratégique 52, Winter 2003-2004, at: http://www.iris- france.org/fr/Archives/revue/pdf/balzacq_52.pdf (as this article was found on the net, there is no indication of pagination). [...]
[...] The title of this part refer to the book, which can be considered as the reference book of constructivism applied to security studies, namely, Buzan, Barry, Wæver, Ole, de Wilde, Jaap, Security: A New Framework for Analysis (London : Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1998) p. Mainly sociology, philosophy, linguistic, history and anthropology. Indeed Nietzscheian anf Foulcaldian critical philosophies have a great influence on constructivism approach, notably concerning the importance of discourse and the ‘contextualisation' of power. A. Wendt, ‘Anachy is what States make of It: the Social Construction of Power Politics', International Organization 46, Spring 1992, pp. [...]
[...] ‘Talking and writing about security is never an innocent act'. Another important critique made against constructivists is the will to apply to security studies methods that was not conceived for them, but for other disciplines. The main example is the utilization of linguistics in Wæver's works. Ceyhan has shown that Wæver interprets the Austin's speech act theory under the influence of its own reading of Derrida. Thus Wæver's conception of security tends not to deal with the context of the discourse, but confines on the arbitrary rules of language, its formal characteristics. [...]
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