The Crisis of Constructivism and Methodological Problems of Studying International Relations

The Crisis of Constructivism and Methodological Problems of Studying International Relations

Sergeev V.M.,

Director of the Center for Global Problems, Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University,

elibrary_id: 1447 |

Kazantzev A.A.,

Chief Research Fellow, Institute of International Studies, MGIMO University,

elibrary_id: 123521 | ORCID: 0000-0002-4845-1391 | RESEARCHER_ID: H-2728-2016

Medvedeva S.M.,

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, MGIMO University,

elibrary_id: 639897 | ORCID: 0000-0001-6231-0491 | RESEARCHER_ID: AAT-9251-2020

DOI: 10.17976/jpps/2019.05.05

For citation:

Sergeev V.M., Kazantzev A.A., Medvedeva S.M. The Crisis of Constructivism and Methodological Problems of Studying International Relations. – Polis. Political Studies. 2019. No. 5. P. 56-70. (In Russ.).

The reported study was funded by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research according to the research project № 19-011-31119.


The article studies some characteristics of contemporary constructivism and its role in development of IR theory today. Constructivism has been described as a methodology that studies “subjective” aspects of IR: identities, values, beliefs, world views. The notion of constructivism here includes a body of critical theories of IR that embraces more moderate variants (as constructivism in a narrow sense making some concessions to scientism) and more radical variants such as postmodernism, feminism, postcolonialism and different “critical theories”. Here, analysis of debates between constructivists on the one hand, and proponents of neoliberalism and neorealism on the other is conducted from the perspective of notions studying “subjective” and “objective” aspects of IR. A multifaceted analysis of the reasons of constructivism’s crisis is conducted in the article. The authors come to the conclusion that the crisis of constructivism in the West is connected to the general crisis of IR theory. This includes: 1) the decline of practical expert activities in universities and its shift to think tanks; 2) the spread of methodological eclecticism in experts’ works; 3) lowering prestige of international area studies in the universities; 4) the relative decline of general humanitarian culture within IR studies in universities; 5) prioritizing quantitative methods over qualitative ones in universities, occasionally without even a clear understanding of the tasks, for which this methods are applied. The article justifies the view that, in the European continent, constructivism in IR still plays an important role as opposed to in US universities. Since today the issues of cultural and inter-civilization conflicts, collisions of ideologies and value systems, and information wars are so widespread (which corresponds to the subject of constructivism), the authors defend the point of view that studying the theory and methodology of constructivism is topical in Russia today.

IR theory, constructivism, neorealism, neoliberalism, postmodernism, critical IR theories.


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Content No. 5, 2019

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