Constructivism and the Syrian Civil War
Constructivism is a normative international relations theory that seeks to understand the importance of society’s actions and extrapolate its meaning (Adler, 1997, pp. 319-320). According to constructivism, any actor can have xan agency in international relations such as states, institutions and individuals and is dissimilar to realism and liberalism where instead of the assumption that states are self-interested and rational, it accepts that these actor’s interests and rationality are socially constructed and are constitutive of and by its identity (Bozdaglioglu, 2007, pp. 122-123). The formation of the state’s interests is inborn in its identity, whereas realism shapes them for survival of the state, and liberalism states they are derived from cooperation and interdependence. Interests are not innate or intrinsic (Risse-Kappen, 1995, p. 502). As it is socially ‘constructed’, a state can then be deconstructed and changed when all interests, identities and assumptions have been recognised. These interests, such as law, rules, norms and institutions are ingrained in the system of international relations and are fundamental for instating change. Constructivism is the best theory for understanding the events in Syria because it shows how social identities and an actors’ interests and preferences are socially constructed and can instigate conflict. Due to the multiple groups motivated in this conflict multiple social identities are present which are incompatible. Ultimately, the Syrian Civil War is an identity conflict with each identity consisting of their own beliefs that each find exclusive. As identities and interests are constitutive, the interests of a group serve as a propellant for social action (Bozdaglioglu, 2007, pp. 131-132). Therefore these constructed interests motivate the social identities of the groups and need to be redefined in order for trust to be established. A social identity can be defined as a...
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