ntested ground for many
decades. A specific indication of this would be explaining or
understanding the nature or knowledge of the world. Many theorists from
different schools of thought since the 1930’s have debated the
contributions made among themselves. The main terminology here initially
is the epistemology or ontology of the research among international
relations theorists, much confined within the boundaries of social research
either scientific or non-scientific, objective or subjective.
Fundamentally, theories in international relations are either foundational
or anti foundational, explanatory or constitutive.
Therefore, as a
researcher you either fall under the positivist framework of research or
the post positivist framework in research. Both of the aforementioned
frameworks have been at odds with each other since the birth of research in
international relations. In relation to the validity and warrantable
acceptability of knowledge that constitutes to the focus. The focus is
obviously explaining or understanding international relations. The scale
has two ends just as there is a scale among states, democratic on one end
and on the other anarchy. The placement of a state on such a scale is
dependent upon the domestic and foreign policy, most presently speaking.
There has been much debate between positivist theorists among themselves as
Rationalists and Post Positivist theorists as Reflectivist also among
themselves, both still existent today. But in the present day there seems
to be a new theory that intends to ‘bridge the gap’. Known as Social
Constructivism. Using theoretical frameworks and methodology from both
sides. Very rationalist in its ways and not very cosy with Reflectivist,
though it has been said that this theory has become prevalent. On the
grounds that European integration seems to be the best place to test it.
Bearing in mind it is a very new theory and it requires some refining and
much more contributions in respect of knowledge.
Thus far, IR terminology has occurred very often and I intend to clarify
this in detail. But more importantly tackle the focus on what
contributions, social constructivism has made to the study international
IR scholars wish to be exempt from the extreme methodological debate and
have introduced ‘middle ground’. This is found in the attempt to introduce
Social constructivism as it has already been contained in a definition of
sociology by Max Weber (1964:88) ‘A science which attempts the interpretive
understanding of social action in order to arrive at a casual explanation
of it’s course and effects.’ However, Social constructivism, it has been
said needs to show more to be accepted as the middle ground in researching
I intend to define the difference in position between two methodological
positions Positivism and Post Positivism with the relevance of epistemology
and ontology and other related terminology in the research of social
This will then illustrate the introduction of social
constructivism and it’s relevance and the contribution it has made to the
study of social phenomena in international relations.
Positivism is the most influential school of thought; scientific methods
are used to conduct investigations and research in international relations.
Using empirical data for introducing theories, the epistemology and
ontology is explaining objectively. Dominant theories such as Realism and
Pluralism have come from the work of scholars under the positivist’s school
of thought. Both, of which are rational theories and very constitutive to
international relations. There are many sub theories under the category of
Realism and Pluralism; this has given rise to much debate among
Most recognised as the inter paradigm debate of Neo-
Realists and Neo-Liberalists. The neo-neo debate is very modern as these
are the refined theories of the traditional Realist and Liberalist
theories. The rationalists have explicitly rejected the work of post
positivistic research for epistemological and ontological reasons.
There has been much development in liberalism, one such type of liberalism
is that of ‘utopian’. Widely known as Wilsonian idealism founder of the
league of nation along with the French and British. Subsequently after the
First World War, this is reminiscent of the work from Immanuel Kant in
The idea is to bring Democracy and self-determination to
the world and an international organization to resolve disputes. This
effectively brings interdependence on a global stage such as previous forms
of diplomacy had been unsuccessful at dissolving the problems that brought
about WWI. Gilbert (1995:257) was quoted to have said the ‘Millions are
being killed. Europe is mad, the world is mad.’ This has become the most
historical depiction upon the subject of WWI. The Kellogg-briand pact of
1928 has become the highest point in this international effort to bring
peace at that time.