The world around us is an increasingly complex web of interactions, relations and events that shape the very reality we live in. There is an ever growing list of theories that claim to hold the answers to understanding this web and the International Relations that occur in response to it. Among these theories, Realism and Constructivism stand out as clear examples of how varied they can be. Both of these assert that they describe the underlying frameworks of our global society and make sense of the seemingly chaotic world around us.
“Realism emphasizes the constraints on politics imposed by human nature and the absence of international government. Together, they make international relations largely a realm of power and interest”
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It is this “social constitution” which constructs the actors identities, and constrains their interactions. And it is those interactions which end up reinforcing or transforming the “social constitution” itself (Lamy, et al. 2011, 102). This theory is based on the assumption that the very nature of the world is based on our commonly held beliefs and the actions we take based on them. Anarchy isn’t the cause or driving force of our international politics, but rather just another creation of our commonly held ideas. As written by Peter van Ham, Constructivists believes that our “norms, values, and identity heavily influence political life” (van Ham 2010, 47)
While from these brief summaries these seem like very different theories that even oppose each other in many areas, they still share commonalities. As with most International Relations theories, States play a role in both philosophies; the degree to which they matter may vary but both claim they are prominent actors. Realism and Constructivism also agree that the global structure in which actors function affects the interactions that are possible. These concepts share a understanding on the ability for states to cooperate with each other to some degree. While this area varies about as much as their believed prominence of states, it can be used to give the two theories common ground.
On January 12th, 2010 a devastating earthquake struck the small island country of Haiti. This earthquake, and