Nina Hiekonen 64833
International Relations/ Thesis Writing KKEN61
The Issue of Russian Identity
The issue of identity is important as it provides certain
characteristics of state. It describes a state and resolves questions of
state identification. It characterizes a state in the context of other
states. In addition, it constructs an idea of a state.
Constructivism offers alternative understandings of a number of central
themes in International Relations theory, including the meaning of
anarchy and a balance of power, a relationship between state identity
and interest, and prospects for change in world politics.
Constructivism assumes that actors and structures mutually constitute
each other; anarchy must be interpreted to have a meaning; state
interests are part of the process of identity construction; power is
both material and discursive; and change in world politics is both
possible and difficult (Hopf, 1998:171). For constructivists there is no
“logic” of anarchy apart from the practices that create and instantiate
one structure of identities and interests rather than another; structure
has no existence or causal powers apart from process. Self-help and
power politics are institutions, not essential features of anarchy.
Anarchy is what states make of it (Wendt, 1992:395).
In constructivism, identity is an important creative factor. Identity
plays an important role in world politics. Identities are produced by
interactions, institutions, norms and cultures. In addition, identities
are important for the construction of the state (Wendt 1992). From the
constructivist’s point of view, identities are necessary in
international politics in order to ensure some level of predictability
and order. A world without identities is a world of chaos, a world of
uncertainty. Identities perform necessary functions in a society: they
tell you and others who you are and they tell you who others are. A
state understands others according to the identity it attributes to
them, and reproduces its own identity. (Hopf, 1998:174).
A state identity is formed in a system of states. Hopf assumes that
constructivism, while expecting to uncover differences, identities and
multiple understandings, still assumes that it can specify a set of
conditions under which one can expect to see one identity or another
Understanding how identities are constructed, what norms and practices
accompany their reproduction, and how they construct each other is a
major part of the constructivist research program. Constructivism
assumes, a priori, that identities are potentially part of the
constitutive practices of the state, and so, productive of its actions
at home and abroad. Different states behave differently towards other
states, based on the identities of each (Hopf 1998, 174).
Identity of a state in international politics is quite important as it
characterizes the state internally and internationally. Every identity
brings in itself a certain knowledge about the state, its internal and
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