The essence of constructivism

  • Vincent Pouliot
Review Article


The relationship between constructivism and postmodernism is complex and ambivalent. The two books reviewed in this essay present contrasting visions on the matter. While the postmodernist critique reveals some contradictions in the way constructivists partake in the ‘politics of reality’, a linguistic perspective on global politics makes the case for the continuing complementarity of the two main postpositivist approaches in IR, constructivism and poststructuralism. Attempting to find an inclusive way out to address the postmodernist critique, this review essay argues that social facts are the essence of constructivism. Not only do social facts constitute an ontological common ground for constructivists, but they also provide them with precious ‘foundations of reality’. On the basis of the distinction between the act and the observation of essentialisation, the essay develops a postfoundationalist position that makes it possible to grasp the essence of constructivism without partaking in the ‘politics of reality’.


constructivism postfoundationalism postmodernism poststructuralism social facts 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vincent Pouliot
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political scienceUniversity of Toronto, Sydney Smith HallTorontoCanada

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