Culture and Context in World Politics by Stephanie Lawson (auth.)

By Stephanie Lawson (auth.)

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28 Constructivism as a form of social theory applied to the study of world politics seeks a wider focus to take account not simply of material forces, but also of ideas, values and interests and the way these shape realities. Thus one proponent of constructivism 22 Culture and Context in World Politics says that it does not draw a sharp distinction between material and social realities – they in fact ‘contaminate each other’. But they do so variably. 29 Studies of constructivist theorizing in world politics show that debates in IR and in comparative politics tend to diverge, partly because of their different levels of analysis and partly because they have not been as concerned about debating methods or testing particular theoretical models.

12 This begs the question as to what constitutes ‘specific structural contexts’. A partial answer resides in the claim that ‘all societies are structured in hierarchical relations and unequal access to different forms of culture and power’. 14 This raises the issue of historic continuity, the relationship between past and present, and how this relates to culture-as-context. 15 The method therefore requires the ‘recovery’ of the context within which past events occurred and/or historical documents or texts were produced.

14 This raises the issue of historic continuity, the relationship between past and present, and how this relates to culture-as-context. 15 The method therefore requires the ‘recovery’ of the context within which past events occurred and/or historical documents or texts were produced. A number of prominent historians and political theorists have been associated with this approach. A. 16 Pocock notes that societies possess concepts with which to discuss their political affairs, and that vocabularies develop in the context of particular social and political processes.

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