Essay on Realism and Constructivism

Essay on Realism and Constructivism

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The creation of the study of international relations in the early 20th century has allowed multiple political theories to be compared, contrasted, debated, and argued against one another for the past century. These theories were created based on certain understandings of human principles or social nature and project these concepts onto the international system. They examine the international political structure and thrive to predict or explain how states will react under certain situations, pressures, and threats. Two of the most popular theories are known as constructivism and realism. When compared, these theories are different in many ways and argue on a range of topics. The topics include the role of the individual and the use of empirical data or science to explain rationally. They also have different ideological approaches to political structure, political groups, and the idea that international relations are in an environment of anarchy.
To fully appreciate these differences and arguments, realism and constructivism must be defined briefly. Realism can be broken down to its core understanding that the international system is anarchic and it consists of political actors known as states. There are three tenants that each state will inherently follow and are known as statism, survival, and self-help. Every decision by a state will have to follow these tenants to be considered rational. Because of this, each state will be naturally distrustful of one another and will act or make decisions based on getting the upper hand or protecting its security from another state. This generates conflict between states and creates a vicious circle of sizing up every state, making a decision based on what would likely be the most beneficial...

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...thus NATO has made its mission to uphold these ideals.
Although realism presents a solid framework for international political structure, constructivism fills in the gaps that realism fails to address or ignores. That being said, constructivism is still not the perfect theory as it still debated and contrasted against many other critical theories. Realism presents a solid framework for the international system. However there are some gaps in it structure that it does not recognize or fails to explain. Constructivism tries to fill in these gaps. Although constructivism is good at examining problems of other theories it does not present a solid framework on its own. It relies on theories such as realism to present this framework so it can criticize it. Together realism and constructivism provide a solid framework and allows the ability to explain its shortcomings.

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