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Alexander Wendt The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations - Essay Example

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Many have come to know Alexander Wendt because of his constructivist theory.In this theory,he postulates that anarchy is a socially constructed fact and it is scholars and politicians who decide how to work in that political environment…
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Alexander Wendt The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations
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Alexander Wendt The Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations

Download file to see previous pages... Initially, Wendt believed on Marxism, as a way of understanding international politics and capital, but later turned to constructivist theory. According to Wendt (1999, 110), in the Agent-Structure theory of international relations, states in international relations act: out of the need to make own free choices and independently; and out of consistent patterned structures which fundamentally shape state choices and opportunities. This discussion therefore seeks to discuss Wendt’s theory and is therefore divided into four sections as shown below: Wendt’s central argument How Wendt’s argument differs from neo-realism and world-systems theory Whether Wendt’s ‘solution’ to the agent-structure problem is the only one available or not Whether Wendt’s ‘solution’ compelling or not Alexander E. Wendt (b. 1958, Mainz, W. Germany) is a political scientist and a core constructivist scholar in the field of international relations. Together with scholars such as Peter Katzenstein, Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Wendt established constructivism as a school of thought. Wendt has taught Yale University (1989-1997), Dartmouth College (1997-1999), University of Chicago (1999-2004) and Ohio State University, where he currently serves as the Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security. Wendt wrote the Agent-Structure Problem in International Relations in 1987. ...
state interests and identities and that because of this, many scholars fail to consider how first and second factors affect state interests and identity. Wendt also points out the failure of neoliberalism as being steeped in the fact that it seeks to explain interstate cooperation by only focusing on the process, while leaving out systematic variables. Constructivism fails to address how state identities are formed in practice (Clarke, 2003, 122). Nevertheless, Wendt ties the constructivist approach to the concept of self-help. This is because, international institutions (as self-help agents) may change identities and interests of states. The concept of self-help as is viewed by realists and himself emanates from the interaction of the units in a system in lieu of anarchy. This stands diametrically opposed to structural and deterministic documents which realists advance, and in which anarchy exists as the principal explanatory variable which drives interactions. Wendt also posits that states interact with one another, and depending on the results of the interaction, these states can come to be characaterised by self-help. Whatever is accrued depends on the process and not the structure (Fay, 1996, 75 and Fuller, 1998, 98-112). Klotz, Lynch and Dunn (2006, 355 – 381) observe that according to Wendt, unlike norms-based constructivism, neorealism and neoliberalism cannot give an adequate account for changes which take place in international systems. For instance, neorealism and neoliberalism cannot account for the manner in which states behave at their pristine periods, before they acquire any priors. Koran (2007, 324 – 326) and Nishimura (2011, 96 – 112) charge that Wendt identifies sovereignty, evolution of cooperation and intentional efforts to change egoistic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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