Skip to main content Accesibility Help

What Makes the World Hang Together? Neo-utilitarianism and the Social Constructivist Challenge

  • John Gerard Ruggie

Social constructivism in international relations has come into its own during the past decade, not only as a metatheoretical critique of currently dominant neo-utilitarian approaches (neo-realism and neoliberal institutionalism) but increasingly in the form of detailed empirical findings and theoretical insights. Constructivism addresses many of the same issues addressed by neo-utilitarianism, though from a different vantage and, therefore, with different effect. It also concerns itself with issues that neo-utilitarianism treats by assumption, discounts, ignores, or simply cannot apprehend within its characteristic ontology and/or epistemology. The constructivist project has sought to open up the relatively narrow theoretical confines of conventional approaches—by pushing them back to problematize the interests and identities of actors; deeper to incorporate the intersubjective bases of social action and social order; and into the dimensions of space and time to establish international structure as contingent practice, constraining social action but also being (re)created and, therefore, potentially transformed by it.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Organization
  • ISSN: 0020-8183
  • EISSN: 1531-5088
  • URL: /core/journals/international-organization
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed